Towards a Just Coal Transition Labor Market Challenges and People’s Perspectives from Silesia

Part of a three-region set of papers analyzing coal-related labor market challenges in Poland, this paper focuses on Silesia. The findings call for a more territorial-oriented approach to brokering the coal transition, rather than a sectoral one. First, the number of jobs directly linked to coal-mining in Silesia is substantial, with 72,000 employees in the mining conglomerates, and an additional 17,000 providing goods and services to the mines. Second, coal-related employment is heavily concentrated geographically: as much as 40 percent of the population of Bieruńsko-Iedziński is employed directly and indirectly in the mining sector, and 80 percent of the mining conglomerates' contract value goes to subcontractors within a 20km radius of the mines. Third, the coal sector is highly integrated among a few large firms: 28 percent of the indirect workforce is employed by 10 subcontractors. Fourth, workers in the mining conglomerates have lower foundational (but better technical) skills than their regional and national counterparts, especially those with lower education. Finally, while eager to work, discrete choice experiments about their job attribute preferences show that they are averse to both, commuting and relocating for work, even though less so than in Wielkopolska, yet more so that in Lower Silesia, the two other regions. Together this suggests that there are important welfare and political economic benefits to adequate job creation locally. The paper further advances a data-driven viable-job-matching tool specifically tailored to the Polish labor market and illustrates how it could be used to assess the potential of local labor markets and future investments to absorb the coal-affected workers accounting for their skills profile, re/upskilling needs, and job attribute preferences.