Clara Alagy, under the supervision of Professor Sophie Bernard and Professor Emmanuel Raufflet, and in collaboration with Gaëlle Généreux from TIESS, analyzed the social impacts of the circular economy on Quebec jobs. Read a summary of their work.
This research project aims to contribute to the advancement of knowledge on the social impact of the circular economy and on the synergies between the social and solidarity economy and the circular economy. More specifically, it aims to understand what type(s) of jobs the Quebec social and circular economy sector offers, in order to anticipate the impacts of the circular transition on work and identify organizational levers for its quality. Through a survey of employees of Quebec social economy enterprises working in the circular economy, we describe the jobs in the sector and assess their quality and the satisfaction of the people who hold them.
Circular economy jobs include a wide variety of job types and qualifications, whose distribution within companies varies according to the circularity strategy(ies) adopted by the company. Upstream strategies, which aim to reduce waste at source, employ proportionally more skilled or highly skilled workers in management, coordination and design positions. Downstream strategies, on the other hand, which are aimed at upgrading or extending product life, employ proportionately more low-skilled or unskilled workers. We also note the strong presence of integration enterprises in these strategies, corroborating the historical collaboration between the social economy and the circular economy.
Beyond this historical collaboration, the social economy is likely to be a lever for the quality of circular jobs, thanks to its principles of democratic and participative governance and its mission of social utility. Our results show that the satisfaction of employees in our sample with their wages is positively correlated with their alignment with the company’s values. In addition, the offer of flexible and adaptable working hours, which is very common in the social economy, was noted by the participants as a considerable advantage in their jobs. We also highlighted the importance of the use of group information channels (team meetings, informal exchanges, messages on a platform and general assemblies) and the multiplication of interactions between company members, which seem to strengthen commitment and improve psychological working conditions.
The union of the social and solidarity economy with the circular economy therefore opens up promising avenues for the creation of desirable jobs compatible with a just circular transition, particularly through the introduction of organizational practices encouraging democratic and participative governance.