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Green Skills for Green Jobs

April 2024 by Anna Romachney

Photo credit: Allison Kwesell / World Bank Photo Collection

What are green jobs?

You may have come across the terms ‘green jobs’ and ‘green skills’ before, potentially within different sustainability strategies, targets, and ambitions. Green jobs are generally those which have direct environmental or sustainability-focused impacts, such as environmental scientist, solar engineer, or sustainability officer. However, we know that all jobs can be green jobs, as we can each have an impact through whatever we do. By making all jobs green jobs, we can facilitate the UNEP’s six-sector solution for reducing emissions in line with the Paris Agreement and beyond. What is needed for this, is green skills.

What are green skills?

Green skills are defined by the UN as ‘the knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society’; and directly sit within two of their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (9 and 12). There is a notable need for green skills across all sectors with various government promises of green jobs to support net zero targets. A 2023 report by LinkedIn also found a notable increase in the ask from job descriptions for green skills in general. Their findings showed a 15% increase in jobs posted on LinkedIn asking for at least one green skill, with the hiring of those with green skills 29% higher than the workforce average. Despite this, there remains a significant skills deficit.

Demand for green skills and green jobs

More training is needed not just to educate people before they enter the workplace but to upskill on the job. Currently, there’s more demand for green skills than there are people with these skills. It’s been shown that workers are seeking this form of training as often they want to act but are unaware of how and are also unsure about what role their organisation is playing. As well as this, it’s been shown that young people are increasingly looking for more sustainable roles and to work with companies that support sustainability. There is also evidence suggesting that certain people would leave their current role to pursue work which takes more direct climate action.

By better supporting the development of green skills as well as generating more green jobs in general, we can create a better environment to live in. We also need to make sure that this is a just transition. Often, gaining these skills is reserved for those educated to degree level so they aren’t always accessible to everyone. The development of green jobs also doesn’t necessarily mean they are ethical. For example, the development of electrical vehicles, to reduce fossil fuel dependency, requires lithium mining, where workers may not be in safe working conditions. It’s about solving multiple problems at once, whilst not inadvertently creating a different problem elsewhere. The green jobs generated will also vary depending on locality. For example, it’s indicated that the North of England will generate more renewable energy jobs whilst the South will be more finance-focused.

Closing the skills gap

As many of us know, becoming Carbon Literate means you have an awareness of the carbon costs of everyday activities but are also motivated to make significant, beneficial changes individually and collectively. Carbon Literacy is suitable for all sectors and for anyone. Through delivering training to students, they can take these skills directly into the workplace, but Carbon Literacy also helps to support the upskilling of those already working.

Ready-made training resources are available to a range of sectors. Explore them via our Sectors pages.

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