By Andrea Thompson
With the global shift towards sustainability in the last ten years, I have seen a huge increase in the number of green jobs and demand for green skills. These jobs are also to be found in more sectors than before. Green skills make people highly employable, and appeal to people looking for passion and purpose in their jobs.
As I have covered in my earlier articles, in the face of escalating environmental, social, and economic challenges, the need for sustainable practices has become more evident than ever. Green jobs have emerged as a crucial component of this global shift towards sustainability. But what is a green job and what are green skills? In this article I look at the skills you need and where green jobs are growing. You might already be working in a green job without even knowing it! Or perhaps you’re looking to make a career change to find work that’s good for you and good for the planet.
WHAT ARE GREEN JOBS AND SKILLS?
First, what are green jobs and skills? Well, sustainability is about thriving society, environment and economy. Green jobs and skills relate to environmental sustainability and are aimed at preserving or restoring the environment. And green skills are what you need to do green jobs.
GREEN JOBS ARE GROWING WORLDWIDE
Over the past decade, the green job sector has experienced impressive growth globally. A UN report, Decent work in nature-based solutions (2022), says 20 million jobs could be created by investing in policies that support nature and address climate change, disaster risk, food insecurity, and other major challenges. According to the International Labor Organisation (ILO, 2021), 18 million jobs can be created by achieving sustainability in the energy sector alone.
DEMAND FOR GREEN SKILLS EXCEEDS SUPPLY
The LinkedIn Green Skills Report (2023) report found green skills, and the jobs that require them, are especially resilient during times of economic uncertainty. But not enough workers have green skills, so demand for green skills is outpacing supply. Workers with green skills are more likely to be hired.
WHAT ARE THE GROWTH SECTORS?
Green jobs span a wide range of industries, from obvious ones like renewable energy, to more unexpected ones like finance, fashion and transport. For example, banks offering sustainable finance products need to know the measures they use are reliable and any initiatives supported by the products are credible. The fashion industry is increasingly concerned about fabric waste, chemical pollution and improving the wellbeing of workers. Transport companies are under pressure to reduce emissions from combustion engines and to find alternative sources of power.
Internationally, the key growth sectors are energy production, transportation and finance (LinkedIn Green Skills Report, 2023).
In Aotearoa, Do Good Jobs identifies five sectors across the workforce where green job vacancies are likely to grow:
- Energy: Investment in renewable generation is growing, as vehicles and heating systems electrify, and the Government strives for a 100% green grid.
- Agriculture: Agriculture contributes directly to sustainable stewardship of the land, air and water. Think of roles like urban farmers, roles that support regenerative farming practices, reducing harmful fertilisers, looking after the water, and more.
- Design: Eco-design is a booming source of jobs in fashion, packaging, building materials, and more.
- Tourism: Ecological tourism, or ecotourism, is a rising trend worldwide as we see more people moving around the world after the Covid lockdown years.
- Transport: Reducing our transport emissions is creating job opportunities in the electric vehicles sector, public transport and commercial freight/logistics areas.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GREEN SKILLS
Great! So now we know that green skills make you more employable. What are the activities and skills required?
In Aotearoa, a recent report has found that sustainability professionals manage the following key activities (Insights on New Zealand Sustainability Professionals, 2023):
- Assessing sustainability risks and opportunities
- Sustainability strategy development
- Stakeholder engagement
- Delivering sustainability initiatives
- Reporting progress to internal and external stakeholders
The report found the key skills required in sustainability professional roles to be:
- Strategic planning
- Building partnerships
- Problem solving
- Technical knowledge
- Project management
- People management
- Analysis / data management
- Cultural competency
JOB TITLES TO LOOK FOR
LinkedIn lists several job titles not traditionally thought of as green jobs, but that increasingly require certain green skills (Green Skills Report, 2023). It is possible that your current job already has a green component, and with it the ability to improve environmental outcomes.
For example, anything that touches on how energy is used has the potential to influence reducing carbon emissions. Work that affects how land is used (e.g., housing, commercial property and agriculture) will increasingly require an ability to navigate environmental issues. Product design roles can reduce the environmental footprint of what we consume.
Source: LinkedIn Green Skills Report
The rise of green jobs and the emphasis on green skills are significant steps towards a more sustainable world. As countries and companies strive to reduce their carbon emissions and transition towards clean energy and eco-friendly practices, the growth of the green job sector is expected to continue its upward trajectory. Embracing green jobs and skills is both a responsibility and an opportunity to create a lasting positive impact on our planet.