Possessing one or more ‘green skills’ can increase your chances of getting hired by 29%, according to a new report by LinkedIn.
Do you ever wish you could make a bigger difference for the planet? Maybe, like me, you have a career that isn’t particularly ‘green’—that is, it isn’t directly related to fighting climate change. But you still want to make a difference.
The good news is, we can. It’s not just the clearly ‘green’ career titles like solar technician and sustainability manager that can have a positive impact on the environment. The rest of us can develop what are now being called ‘green skills’ to do our part in helping make life a little more sustainable here on Earth.
“It’s not just about adding more obvious green jobs, it’s also about using skills to transform every job into a greener, more sustainability-minded version,” says Efrem Bycer, Sr. Lead Manager, Public Policy & Economic Graph at LinkedIn. “Over the next decade, we need to take dramatic action to make our planet livable for generations to come, and new climate policies and commitments are driving the increase in ‘green’ jobs.”
Bycer and I connected recently to discuss LinkedIn’s 2023 Global Green Skills Report and how workers in traditional careers can develop the kind of skills needed for a greener future. Here’s what we covered.
Green skills in demand
LinkedIn’s research found that skills in carbon accounting, carbon credits, emissions trading, impact assessment and sustainability reporting are currently among the fastest-growing green skills in the U.S.
The report found that the concentration of ‘green talent’ in the workforce—those who hold a green job or list at least one green skill on their LinkedIn profile—is growing in every one of the 48 countries included in the study. “The increase in demand for green skills, however, is outpacing this increase in supply, and green skills shortage looks imminent,” says Bycer. “This is evident in the fact that, around the world, only 1 in 8 workers has one or more green skills.”
Possessing green skills can help workers in any field, not just those directly connected to climate change. “The median LinkedIn hiring rate for workers with at least one green skill is 29% higher than the workforce average,” says Bycer. “This is true for workers with green skills, regardless of title, suggesting that having relevant green skills can better position a worker to get any job.”
Based on the data, Bycer believes the financial sector will be where green skills are required most. “The median green talent concentration across all industries is 12.3% but only 6.8% for financial services,” he says. “In other words, one in 15 finance workers have green skills.”
All careers can be green
Though we tend to think of green careers as those which directly influence the climate, Bycer believes that there are two ways to think of green jobs. Traditionally defined, green jobs are those where fighting climate change is core to the role. “This includes obvious green jobs like wind turbine technician, solar consultant, and sustainability manager, all among the fastest growing titles in the U.S.,” Bycer says.
But there’s a second way to define green careers, and it’s simply as a greener version of every existing job. “Green skills are growing among titles that don’t strike us right away as green jobs, but end up being critical to fighting climate change,” says Bycer.
One example he points to is the role of procurement analyst. “For many companies, the biggest source of emissions is their supply chain,” Bycer explains. “When they make bold climate commitments, it’s their procurement teams who are on the frontlines of figuring out how to reach those new carbon targets.”
Until recently, Bycer notes that job postings for supply chain professionals did not reference green skills. “That is changing as the planet and employers’ demand shifts. These workers are learning new green skills to both meet this moment and remain up to date in their field.”
Other examples of green skills and the titles where they are growing include:
- Climate change: Meteorologist, agricultural specialist, policy advisors, marine biologist
- Sustainable design: Architectural manager, landscape architect, director of interior design, urban planner, construction administrator
- Agronomy: Sales operations assistant, entomologist, winemaker, tech sales rep
A greener career
Although every worker can positively affect the climate by practicing green skills, many, especially in the younger generations, still want to make saving the planet their full-time job. So how can you transition out of your current role to something that combats climate change more directly?
“Green jobs can be difficult to break into,” says Bycer. “They tend to require combinations of multiple green skills. Our data shows that, typically, 81% of workers who transition into green jobs have at least some green skills or prior green experience.”
However, there are three areas that workers with little to no green career experience can leverage to move into a climate-related job:
1. STEM and other critical green-adjacent skills
STEM skills, says Bycer, are at the top of the list of non-green skills that increase workers’ chances of successfully transitioning into sustainability jobs. Digital skills are also important, as tech-enabled solutions will be critical to helping companies to achieve their sustainability objectives.
“There are also industries greening more rapidly than others, so expertise in utilities, mining, and agriculture will be sought after,” he says. “Public administration is another burgeoning area as employers engage in more elaborate compliance and policy activities related to climate change.”
2. New green roles
“As hiring increases for relatively novel jobs like energy specialist, solar consultant, and sustainability manager, we are seeing employers hire candidates with similar or adjacent skill sets,” says Bycer. Often, individuals who transition into these roles also possess expertise in other relevant areas such as business strategy, negotiation and project management.
3. Gateway roles
These types of jobs offer the opportunity to acquire the green skills needed to move on to traditional green roles, says Bycer. “In fact, roughly 41% of workers who move into jobs that involve sustainability—but do not have it as a core purpose—have no prior green experience,” he says. “They do, however, tend to come from jobs that have nine to 11 overlapping skills, reinforcing the importance of skills-based approaches to hiring and talent development.”
Additionally, jobseekers can look at LinkedIn’s curated green jobs collection that uses green skills to identify green jobs around the world.
Driven by their values, Generation Z shows significant interest in pursuing green careers. “LinkedIn data shows that social causes are at the forefront of job seekers’ minds, especially young workers: 3 out of 4 millennial and Gen Z workers proactively seek out jobs that align with their values today,” says Bycer. “Plus, our green skills report shows that Gen Z and millennials are accelerating their green skills much faster than Gen X and Boomers.”
Additionally, Bycer points out that younger workers are entering the labor market at a time of high volatility. What many people don’t realize is that in an uncertain economy, green jobs remain resilient. “For example, from 2015 to 2023, employment in the renewable energy industry grew in every country we studied,” says Bycer.
One thing is clear: green is the color of the future. Whether you’re seeking a green job or a greener version of your current role, we can all fight climate change in whatever position we hold in the workforce.
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