New LinkedIn research has highlighted a shortage within the kind of green skills that are needed to help develop green industries and help it achieve it climate ambitions.
Green Skills Shortage In The Workforce
LinkedIn’s Global Green Skills Report 2023 showed that although the concentration of “green talent” in the workforce is growing, i.e. there is a growing number of workers with a ‘green’ job or who list at least one green skill on their LinkedIn profile, the increase in demand for green skills is outpacing the increase in supply. This has raised the prospect of an imminent green skills shortage that could threaten the development of new industries and slow down efforts to make homes and commercial buildings more energy efficient.
For example, the report shows that worldwide, only one in eight workers has one or more green skills – seven in eight workers lack even a single green skill.
What Is A Green Skill?
Green skills can be described as the expertise and abilities focused on promoting environmental sustainability. Examples include renewable energy installation and maintenance, sustainable construction and design, environmental engineering, energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture, environmental education, green data analysis, waste management and recycling, green business and sustainability management, and environmental policy and planning.
Although it’s relatively clear what green skills are, there’s a lack of a precise global definition of what constitutes a “green job”. For example, some see them as jobs in sectors that directly drive the net zero transition, e.g. renewable energy or electric vehicle production, while others see green jobs as simply those with a high share of green-related tasks.
The LinkedIn report makes the point that greater numbers of green skills need to be incorporated in deeper, more impactful ways into more jobs anyway to help us meet out climate goals.
Green Jobs Demand Outpacing Green Talent Supply
Taking a broad view of what constitutes a ‘green job’, the LinkedIn report illustrates that the growth in the share of job postings requiring a green skill exceeds the growth rate of green skills being acquired by the workforce. For example:
– Between 2022 and 2023, the share of green talent in the workforce rose by a median of 12.3% while the share of job postings requiring at least one green skill grew twice as quickly (by a median of 22.4%).
– The five-year annualised growth rate between 2018 and 2023 shows a similar trend with the share of green talent growing by only 5.4% per year over that period, while the share of jobs requiring at least one green skill growing by 9.2%.
Green Hiring Still Bucked The Trend
That said, and even though overall hiring slowed over the past year, the LinkedIn research shows that green hiring bucked that trend. For example, while overall hiring slowed globally between February 2022 and February 2023, job postings requiring at least one green skill have grown by a median of 15.2% over the same period.
Some Countries Easier To Get A Green Job With No Green Experience
LinkedIn’s research shows that although green skills generally aren’t being acquired quickly enough by the workforce, some jobs in some countries provide a better chance of workers getting a green job without prior green experience, e.g. waste management specialists and solar consultants in the UK and US.
It’s also worth noting that some jobs can be regarded as ‘gateway jobs’ to acquiring green skills.
For example, an energy efficiency analyst works with organisations to understand their energy consumption and develop strategies to reduce it. This role typically involves conducting energy audits, analysing energy data, identifying energy-saving opportunities, and recommending energy-efficient technologies or improvements. They may also monitor and verify the effectiveness of energy efficiency measures that have been implemented.
While this role might require some background knowledge in energy systems, it is also a job that encourages on-the-job learning about energy efficiency and conservation methods, the use of renewable energy, and the understanding of energy policies and regulations.
This position can lead to a deeper understanding and acquisition of green skills, which can be used to move into more specialized roles in the future, such as an Energy Manager, Sustainability Director, or Environmental Policy Advisor.
In addition to the general challenge of a green skills shortage in the workforce, other challenges that could hold back green skills and the transition and green jobs include:
– Those working in fossil fuel jobs are generally paid more than in green jobs.
– There is a lack of investment in reskilling workers.
– There is an apparent lack of equality in green jobs, e.g. green jobs appear to be more the domain of men. There is also a disparity in education, with better educated people having green jobs.
– There is a lack of incentives, e.g. tax and other financial incentives for companies to pay better wages for green jobs and take on apprentices.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
As the LinkedIn report points out, “Our ambitious green goals require the rapid proliferation of green skills”. The current green skills gap in the workforce poses significant challenges as the demand for these skills continues to outpace their acquisition. This trend has implications for businesses, governments, and the achievement of environmental and carbon targets. To address this gap, businesses and organisations must recognise the importance of investing in new technologies and creating attractive working conditions to entice workers. Governments, on the other hand, should provide clear incentives for companies to adopt green practices and develop comprehensive policies and programs that equip workers with the necessary green skills.
Closing the skills gap requires a concerted effort to reskill and upskill today’s workforce, enabling workers to learn green skills on the job. Tailored reskilling programs that identify relevant green skills for each role and industry should be developed, along with expanded access to economic opportunities for workers in countries that have been left behind. Collaboration between governments, the private sector, educators, and institutions of higher learning is crucial to ensure that green skills are integrated into curricula across various fields of study.
To tackle the issue, governments should work with the private sector to accelerate skills-based hiring and leverage real-time skills and hiring data for informed decision-making. Identifying gateway jobs that facilitate transitions to other green roles, supporting workers during pay cuts in the transitional period, and creating impactful upskilling and on-the-job training programs are essential. Maximising investments in these efforts and fostering the development of new degree programs catering to specialised green skills are also crucial steps.
Ultimately, it is through the collaboration and commitment of all stakeholders that the green skills gap can be closed, driving the necessary green transformation, and contributing to the achievement of global sustainability goals.
By Mike Knight