Like many of my colleagues, I have recently been on a knowledge upskilling journey when it comes to green skills – a subject that has quickly become a critical agenda item in both the public and private sector, with the race for securing talent in this space already well underway.
The shift to a net zero economy will require a transformation of our workforce, inevitably changing the skills required and the tasks involved in many of the existing occupations as well as generating thousands of additional opportunities for green jobs. But there’s a problem: are we ready for this skills revolution?
The UK government has set an ambition of supporting 2 million jobs in the green economy and its supply chains by 2030 and later this year the UK Government’s Green Jobs Delivery Group will publish its action plan on green skills that will undoubtedly include a planned approach to skilling and hiring. What we know right now is that the demand for green skills is already on the rise, with green jobs now representing over 30% of UK job postings on LinkedIn and with a talent shortage already evident this is presenting a challenge.
But the green skills agenda also presents a huge opportunity.
In the article How the transition to net zero could unlock social mobility published last year by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), William Akerman at Connectr explains how the green skills gap could be the opportunity of a generation for social mobility. He highlights an important point when it comes to the challenge of green skills demand versus available talent in the market in that the “gap won’t be filled from reskilling companies’ existing workforces alone.” He draws attention to the opportunity for this gap to be filled by early careers, indicating this could be “a vital pathway to get the right skills into your organisation, to set your company up for success.”
When shaping the future of the green economy, harnessing the passion for sustainability amongst young people and a desire to work for an organisation that aligns with that will be key, and this needs to begin with creating tangible career pathways and access to these roles. ISE report 72% of students want to work for an employer that has a positive impact on sustainability.
The article does suggest that there’s a risk of diverse groups getting left behind. However “if rolled out considerately, once-in-a-generation workforce changes like the transition to net zero, also provide an opportunity to power up diverse talent groups, and give them the skills to stand out and get ahead.”
So what action is required?
Organisations need to invest in their future “green” workforce now to ensure they have the right skills to deliver a green industrial revolution and thrive in the jobs it will create.
Targeting young people from all backgrounds and demographics who are interested in securing a green job will be vital and this begins with education. There is a lack of knowledge and information about the requisite skills and qualifications needed and routes to entry when it comes to green skills.
When it comes to routes to entry, models like recruit, train, deploy could be a perfectly positioned and indeed highly effective route for green skills hiring, offering a comprehensive approach to address the increasing demand for workers with expertise in sustainable practices and environmental conservation. Such a model can Identify individuals from diverse backgrounds who have the potential and interest in acquiring green skills and design training programmes that are tailored to the specific needs of the green economy.
By implementing a recruit, train, deploy model tailored to green skills, organisations can contribute to the development of a skilled and diverse workforce that actively participates in the transition to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly economy. This approach not only addresses the demand for green skills but also promotes social and economic mobility for individuals seeking opportunities in this growing sector.