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Knowledge category: Papers and reports

Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy in European SMEs: Investigating the Role of Green Jobs and Skills

Updated on 18.11.2022

This study investigated the role of green jobs and skills for EU enterprises implementing the circular economy (CE), collecting data on resource efficiency, green markets, and CE procedures. It showed a lack of environmental expertise is an obstacle to resource efficiency. Having no workers dedicated to green jobs is strongly correlated to the probability of adopting resource-efficiency practices.

Author: Francesca Bassi, Mariangela Guidolin
Year of publication: 2021

More information

This article analyses over 10 000 SMEs in Europe and – while heterogeneity was observed among different EU Member States in the adoption of circular economy (CE) practices – the number of workers employed in green jobs is correlated to uptake of CE actions. Perceiving the need for extra environmental skills has a positive effect on the intention to implement actions in the future. Other characteristics of the enterprises have a significant impact on resource efficiency: in general, older and bigger firms, with larger yearly turnover, are more prone to implementing actions. The analysis of the determinants of green behaviour by European SMEs was completed by a study of heterogeneity across firms and within countries with a multilevel latent class model, a hierarchical clustering method. Previous research has shown there are differences in resource-efficiency practices adopted both within and between EU Member States.

Relevance for Circular Systemic Solutions

For cities and regions to feel confident implementing Circular Systemic Solutions (CSS), skilled workers in environmental jobs are important. A connection between the number of workers employed in green jobs and the uptake of CE actions was found. Therefore, acquisition and dissemination of environmental skills can be used to catalyse the uptake of resource-efficiency actions to achieve CSS.


Skills and capacity



e.g. chemicals, cosmetics, bio-based industries


e.g. B2B services

Territories involved