Employment in circular economy

Circular economy aims at increasing the wellbeing of people through economic growth and creation of new jobs. The overall numbers of employment, however, do not tell much about the quality of the employment. What kind of employment opportunities the circular economy introduces? Does circular economy embed equal opportunities for people despite their social standing?

The employment indicators measure how the circular economy employment opportunities are socially distributed. The indicators measure the average income in circular economy sector jobs, division of jobs between different background education categories and employment opportunities of vulnerable groups.

Data for the income and background education in circular economy sector jobs is produced by the Statistics Finland. The indicators are produced only on national level.

Data for vulnerable groups’ employment is received from the Employment Service Statistics compiled by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. The indicator focuses on the employment of people as refuse sorters through work trials and wage subsidies in the different regions. People who work as refuse sorters work in tasks related to the take-back, collection, sorting and handling of paper, cardboard, metal, glass and plastic. The work can also be related to the receiving or selling used things, furniture, clothes and equipment. Work trials and wage subsidies, in turn, are public labour services targeted especially at vulnerable groups such as uneducated youth, immigrants, disabled and long-term unemployed.

Average income and background education

The indicators have originally been published by the Statistics Finland. The data and used definitions are described in more detail at the website.

The median salaries in circular economy sectors are lower than the average income in Finland. Those working in the recycling jobs have the lowest salaries. The development of salaries at the circular economy sectors have been similar to the development of the overall median salaries.

The median salaries in circular economy sectors are lower than the average income in Finland. © Statistics Finland/Circwaste

Most of the people employed at circular economy jobs have vocational education. The share of those with vocational and higher education have been similar throughout the 2010s.

Most of people employed at circular economy jobs have vocational education. © Statistics Finland/Circwaste

Vulnerable groups’ employment

Out of the over 1 100 different job titles, refuse sorter is of the most common occupation for work trials and wage subsidised work. In 2019 3.6% of all work trials and 3.9% of wage subsidised work periods were carried out as refuse sorters nationally. In some of the regions the percentages are even higher. The importance of recycling work has increased during the past years in almost all the regions. This suggests that the importance of CE related work is increasing for providing employment opportunities for the vulnerable groups with limited professional skills.

More information

  • Senior Research Scientist Kati Pitkänen, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, firstname.lastname@syke.fi
  • Researcher Tiina Karppinen, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, firstname.lastname@syke.fi
  • Senior Statistician Niko Olsson, Statistics Finland, firstname.lastname@stat.fi
Published 2020-11-30 at 10:40, updated 2020-12-09 at 21:29
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