Rise of the Green Collars: How the Green Revolution Impacts Skills

As the COP28 wrapped up in December 2023 with a clear reminder of the sheer challenge ahead of us to avoid the devastating consequences of climate change, the World Employment Confederation brought together the OECD and LinkedIn to take a close look at which skills will be needed to perform those jobs that will put the planet on the path towards a greener future.

Published on 11th January 2024

In December 2023, the United Nations climate change conference (COP28) in Dubai called on all countries to come forward with ambitious, economy-wide plans to enable a global 43% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 2019. If we are to limit global warming to 1.5°C, significant shifts are needed, primarily in our energy systems – moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy – but also in the transport and construction sectors.

This transition is already massively impacting jobs. According to LinkedIn’s Global Green Skills Report 2023, average job requirements include 24% more green skills than in 2015, and postings for green jobs grow twice as fast as green talent. Simply put, employers lack workers with the right skills for the green transition.

The green transition, therefore, represents an opportunity for the recruitment and staffing firms to step in and help businesses and workers fill the gaps. But what exactly is a green job? How do you know if you have acquired green skills?  On 13 December, the World Employment Confederation invited Glenda Quintini, Senior Economist and Head of the Skills Team at the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and Adam Hawkins, Head of Search & Staffing for the EMEA & LATAM regions at LinkedIn, to share some insights about how the green revolution impacts labour markets.

No green transition without the proper skills

According to ongoing research by the OECD, the green transition will have an unequal impact across sectors, regions, and demographics as workers in greenhouse-gas-intensive occupations tend to be male, old, and living in rural areas. Skills and labour shortages seem unavoidable. Therefore, more detailed labour market information is needed, but countries struggle with the approach. Should we look at ‘green sectors’, ‘green jobs’, ‘green tasks’?

LinkedIn’s research shows different ‘shades’ of green jobs. A solar technician is for sure classified as a ‘green job’. But what about an accountant who now mustreport greenhouse gas emissions? This might not be a green job in a green sector, but it is a job that can no longer be performed without at least one green skill.

Glenda Quintini concurs that the skills approach is the most relevant. OECD research shows that process skills such as critical thinking, active listening and monitoring rank as the most required skills in green-related occupations. New green-related jobs are also very scientific, meaning that STEM (Scientific, Technological, Engineering and Mathematical) skills will be in demand.

From analysis to action

Such information, adds Quintini, needs to feed policies related to education, adult learning and career guidance, industrial and employment policies, and migration. While a fundamental education reform is required to prepare for the green transition, training for ‘re-employment’ will also be essential. Here, Quintini sees potential for public-private partnerships to help and a tendency for more flexible training in a modular approach.

The benefits won’t take long to be reaped. LinkedIn’s data says that workers with green skills have higher hiring rates. The issue is: only one in eight workers has one or more green skills. But do they? Adam Hawkins explains that in 81% of transitions into green jobs, workers already possess green skills or prior green job experiences. They simply don’t categorise it that way.

Moving towards skills-based hiring, he says, would, therefore, help people to understand better which skills they have and those they will need. This systemic change of recruitment methods is already being implemented by the HR services industry, which sees its potential not only for the green transition but also for increasing diversity and inclusion – a dimension that is also essential to consider in the green revolution debate to ensure a just transition and avoid labour shortages.

Wrapping up the discussion, Glenda Quintini also pointed out the better recognition of skills acquired through experience to help identify green skills. This is also an area where the HR services industry is pioneering new approaches for credentialing and validation of skills through blockchain.


Access the recording of the session on our YouTube channel!

WEC members can also find the presentations given by the OECD and LinkedIn on the Members Area.

This event is part of our “WEConversations” monthly webinar series designed to help you stay updated on employment-related trends, learn fresh skills, and expand your network – all within your busy schedule! To never miss an invitation to one of our events, leave your contact details through the form on our website’s homepage!

topics: Skills
content types: News
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