Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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I no longer blog on this site. You can now find me, my general blogs, and the work I am doing researching my forthcoming book on imagination, on my new blog.

1 Jul 2009

What Employment Opportunities Arise from Embracing Transition?

jobs As part of the Totnes EDAP, we are creating this table (below), by way of illustrating the wealth of new employment possibilities that could be created in a community that seriously embraces the potential of Transition. There will of course be hundreds of things we have neglected to include. In the light of the continued ‘sharp contraction’ of the UK economy, we are arguing that the only way the area can revive its fortunes will be via. the Transition approach. One of the perks of doing Transition Culture is the ability to run work in progress by you to get your thoughts and input, and to have things that I hadn’t thought of pointed out to me. Please post your thoughts and additional livelihood opportunities below. Thanks.

Employment Opportunities for a Post-Peak Oil Totnes and District
Employment Sector Industry Type Opportunities for Economic Development
Food Production/Land Use Organic Farming Farm workers, research and innovation, value adding and processing, retail, Community Supported Agriculture initiatives
Textile Production Farming, processing, manufacturing
Organic Food Production Training, freshwater aquaculture, organic gourmet mushroom production for food and medicines, intensive market gardening
Forestry Timber for construction and a variety of uses, sawdust for mushroom cultivation, charcoal, wood gasification, coppice products, saps, tannin, bark mulch, education, training, food crops, fibre
Urban Agriculture Co-ordination, land access provision, edible landscaping consultancy, online tools for linking growers and consumers, large potential for commercial production, plant nurseries and propagation
Gleaning Apple harvesting and pressing, hedgerow drinks and other products, education
Agroforestry systems Design consultancy, planting and ongoing management, selling of wide range of produce, long term enhanced timber value, courses, publications, research
Schools Edible landscaping, teaching, Education for Sustainable Development, food growing training, apprenticeships, bespoke Transition training programmes
Manufacturing and Processing Recycling Salvaging building materials, processing and reclaiming materials (bricks, timber etc), making insulation from waste paper, glass bottles into insulation
Sustainable Industry Renewable energy technologies manufacturing and installing, technology systems,
Repair Extending the life of machinery, building for durability
Fabric Processing of locally produced fabric, hemp, flax etc, making a range of clothing for retail, and repairs
Scavenging Materials reuse, refurbishing, resale to low-income families
Services Healthcare Holistic healthcare, research into effective herbal medicines, local herb growing and processing, training for doctors, apothecaries, nutritional advice
Energy Home insulation advice, energy monitoring, energy efficient devices, investment co-ordinators, sale of energy to grid or decentralised energy systems, producing wood chip/pellets for boilers, Energy Resilience Analyses for businesses
Compost Management Collecting, Managing, Training, Distribution, Education, potential links to urban food production
Information Technology Creation of effective software systems for energy management, carbon footprinting and much more
Hospice services / bereavement Hospice services, supporting families who keep relatives at home, green burials
Financial Investment Credit Unions, local currencies, mechanisms whereby people can invest with confidence into their community, Green Bonds, crowd funding
Government Councils Opportunity to organise efforts throughout region, and parishes
Researchers Opportunity to gather information from the many projects and enterprises underway.
Education and Design Educators Wide range of opportunities for supporting ‘The Great Reskilling’, developing Distance Learning programmes, training for professionals
Sustainable Designers Landscape architects specialising in edible landscaping, zero carbon buildings
The Arts Art projects documenting the Transition, installations, exhibitions, public art workshops, local recording studios, storytelling
Transition Consulting Working with businesses on energy audits, resilience plans, a range of future-proofing strategies
Personal / Group Support Counselling Personal ‘Transition Counselling’, group support, community processes
Citizens Advice Debt advice, housing advice, financial management skills, debt scheduling
Outplacement/Redundancy Support Support, retraining, ongoing support and training
Media Print media Local newspapers, small print run books on different aspects of the Transition
Internet Online retailing systems for local markets
Film media Online TV channels documenting inspiring examples of Transition in Action
Construction Reskilling Retraining builders to use local materials and green building techniques, improving awareness around energy efficiency in building, setting up local construction companies
Materials Creating local natural building materials, clay plasters, timber, lime, straw, hemp etc. Growing, processing, distribution, retail etc. Locally made wallpaper.
Architects Specialists in passiv haus building, local materials, retrofit advice
Transportation Low energy vehicle fleets Marketing, maintaining, renting, chauffeuring
Bicycles Selling, servicing, maintenance training, rental
Rickshaws Importing, servicing, taxi service, weddings etc.
Biodiesel Sourcing, processing, selling, training and advice
Biomethane/Electric vehicles Fleet management, sales, leasing, car clubs

This chart is based on and expanded from Chen, Y., Deines, M., Fleischmann,H., Reed, S. & Swick, I. (2007) Transforming Urban Environments for a Post-Peak Oil Future: a vision plan for the city of San Buenaventura. City of San Buenaventura.

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.


Finn Jackson
1 Jul 10:08am

Great list!

I’d add to it your own “200 Artisan Skills Required to Make a Victorian Town Functional”, see:

It includes things the Buenaventurans missed out, like furniture makers, potters, …

And probably local news/media services will become more important again, because what is happening 1,000 miles away (because we can’t get there) will be less important than the price of eggs in the surrounding towns.

1 Jul 11:32am

Apologies to the people who couldn’t see the table above… all sorted now. Apparently it was those who use Microsoft Explorer who couldn’t see it, but Mozilla Firefox users could. The problem was my posting a table from Microsoft Word into WordPress, which then Microsoft Explorer couldn’t see!

Yet another reason to dispense with Explorer altogether and use the far superior Firefox! Anyway I hope you enjoy the piece….

1 Jul 11:46am

If anyone still can’t see the table, or it looks a bit squashed, press ‘Refresh’ on your internet browser and you should see it.

Shane Hughes
1 Jul 11:51am

Hi Rob,
Over the last couple of days you’ve posted a couple of really important blogs. Each one helping to articulate piece of a vision of a post carbon world. There’s probably others but IMO they include this post about employment, the one on music that offers a lyrical insight and the one on EDAP’s (or peak oil preparation plans as you’ve put it).

I watched with fascination eager to see lots of suggest sources that offer new angles or layers of understanding about the new world we attempting to transition to. I felt that these threads didn’t get the response level they deserved and was hoping you’d post them out as part of the transition network newsletter and perhaps report back. I’d also be interested in other films that capture a glimpse of our possible future, such as Farm for the Future and Power of Community.

Just a little item to add to your empty schedule.


1 Jul 11:56am

Another important profession you don’t mention Rob is herbalist.

There are hundreds of professionally trained (to degree level) medical herbaists in the UK who work holistically with huge respect for the plants they use, the environment the plants come from and the people they treat.

Their knowledge and experience, often built up over decades, of the intricacies and synergies that plant medicines can bring to maintaining and improving human health will be of vital importance to their communities in transition.

They will be also be vital in teaching people to use and value the plants that grow in their neighbourhoods and gardens, and as holders of the expertise needed to use herbal medicine in more serious conditions.

Jane Buttigieg
1 Jul 12:33pm

Rainwater harvesting techniques will be vital after the age of cheap oil. In a world where we won’t be using heaps of cheap energy to purify water to drinking standards and then use it in the loo, we will need to learn ways of using less, by using rainwater. People who can install water saving systems for homes/community buildings etc will be really important, and will hopefully be as abundant as plumbers and electricians are today. We don’t know how climate change will affect water availability but having grown veg in my small front and back garden for the first time this year, I am stunned at the amount of water I am using…about 60 litres a day when it doesn’t rain.

Beverley Kinnaird
1 Jul 12:52pm

Re RICKSHAWS – I hope no-one will need to import Rickshaws they can be made locally by small engineering companies like ours. See Hereford’s wonderful local pedicabs at:–rickshaw.html

dave prescott
1 Jul 1:27pm

Great list, really useful.

Not sure where it fits in but there is a lot of work to do around creating entrepreneurs, ie people able to translate and, crucially, apply in practice, ideas from other walks of life to Transition (everything including international development and social entrepreneurship – eg Ashoka or the School for Social Entrepreneurs – to timebanking and skillsharing).

Also related to this would be greater professionalisation of those attempting to work across private, public and citizen/voluntary sectors, see eg the work of the partnership brokers accreditation scheme:

I agree strongly with the point above about local media, I would also add local radio to your list above, this is a low-energy technology that will certainly be around if/when the internet starts going down

Not sure ‘scavenging’ is a job – or if it is, maybe find another word for it! From the list it sounds a bit like salvage/ remanufacturing?

‘Sustainable industry’ is a massive area and a bit vague as currently presented in your list. ‘Cradle-to-cradle design’ might capture this idea with rather more precision.

The language challenge is absolutely enormous with this stuff…

Joanne Poyourow
1 Jul 3:11pm

Mandy mentioned herbalist. There is a whole range of health care providers who don’t fit under the allopathic definition of “doctor”. They provide health care in a power down fashion (here in Los Angeles we’ll be having a mini-conference of these types of modalities on Oct31/Nov1). These include accupuncture, accupressure, herbalism, homeopathy, chiropractics, craniosacral, energy medicine, and much more. These modalities include vast stores of healing practices that don’t involve “things” that would need to be imported, etc.

The “fabric” heading seems to be shortcut, but would include spinning, weaving, knitting, sewing, education in fiber arts.

Under food production I don’t see preservation of food including canning, drying, etc. and education of homemakers in same. We’ll have cooking, and education in power-down cooking techniques (solar cooking, rocket stoves, hay boxes, woodstove cooking, raw foods, etc).

Not exactly a “new employment opportunity” but rather a new focus: we’ll need lawyers who can think creatively to develop the new forms and systems based on the new ethics.

Same with schoolteachers. Traditional schooling (reading/writing/arithmetic) will likely continue for quite some time, although likely in smaller more localized locales (no more massive school systems). We’ll need a whole new portfolio of subjects and focus to prepare young people for the new lifestyle, teaching the entire list you’ve outlined.

Jane’s comment about water harvesting is huge for those of us in places that don’t have abundant oil-independent water supplies. Don’t leave out retrofitting of plumbing to greywater, installation of composting toilets and post-peak sewer solutions.

We’ll see a whole range of professions that deal with the deconstruction and collapse of the old ways of business, including bankruptcy lawyers, mediators, forensic accountants, etc.

Another area that isn’t mentioned: local “inner work” professionals (mental health professionals, counselors, spiritual and religious leaders, etc.) who are prepared to work with the issues that arise as people cope with a radically new direction for the future.

[…] Here is the original:  What Employment Opportunities Arise from Embracing Transition … […]

julian duggan
1 Jul 8:22pm

mmmm….’scavenging’,’low income families’all in the same breath.God Bless market economies!Mind you the councillors might be kept busy when we start squatting there over inflated income spare rooms and growing stuff in there gardens!

1 Jul 11:02pm

Mmmmmm Squatting
Is that a profession?
I can definitiely see that being somethinmg that might happen a lot in certain future scenarios.

Shane Hughes
2 Jul 6:26am

Not so much as a profession as a mini industry with all its own specialist occupations. Image the workload involved in re-appropriating and managing disused buildings for community benefit. Back in 2003/4 i remember in London there was an increasing number of buildings (142 Project, Area10, Unity Works, 491 Gallery etc) being “legally” occupied through varying kinds of agreement with the landlords. An increasing trend i hope.

2 Jul 8:54am

I see it this way, from the immediate needs to the long-term requirements.

→ Water
→ Food
→ Energy (fuel, power, heat, light)
→ Hygiene (disease control)
→ Administration (organising for now)
→ Repairs (with spares, handmade if necessary)
→ Adaptation (without spares, or new uses for old things)
→ Manufacture (making new things)
→ Trade (export surplus, import shortfall. e.g. bikes for glass)
→ Planning (organising for the future)
→ Health (maintaining physical and mental strength)
→ Education (passing on practical life skills)
→ Entertainment (relaxing)

Common themes here are practical engineering skills, teaching/learning skills and a knowledge of earth, life and physical sciences.

Manufacture and trade are interesting ones. Not every area will have everything locally (fuel, ores, wood, etc) to make everything required. How else then can what can’t be produced locally be obtained except by trading surpluses (food and/or goods) for them?

3 Jul 4:06am

Mark, I like the structure of that list, but you forgot air. and all that 🙂

[…] for increased employment in a Transitioned world. You (and your children) can see the full list here, and take your […]

David Lashley
5 Jul 12:18am

Irrespective of whether this list is complete or not, I think that breaking what we might visualise a powered-down community to look like into its component jobs or trades is a very useful way of thinking. It allows people to properly see and focus on what their contribution might be and avoid trying to do everything and end up burning out.

When I grow up I want to be a hedgerow drinks consultant!

James Samuel
5 Jul 8:14am

Don’t go past this excellent description of multiple Peak Oil survival streams…

In this post Paula offers another excellent table with columns broken down into three modes of the economy everyone in preparation or pre-preparation needs to consider:

— Overt — Taxable, monetary income
— Barter — Taxable non-monetary trade
— Underground — Things to sell or trade that are unclaimable as income because they are illegal, controlled, subject to licensures and permitting, or would threaten an individual’s ability to survive if their full value were claimed as income.