The Demand For Green Skills Is Growing Globally

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What are green skills, and why do we need them?

Green skills are an extension of existing generic skills, those skills that the manufacturing industry has counted on for the last 60 years. But they’re also much more, too, as they focus on efforts to minimize environmental degradation and save energy.

Climate change and environmental pollution have negatively affected the sustainable development of the society, economy, and environment in every country around the world. In order to diminish the impacts caused by the carbon dioxide feedback cycle, many countries have started to shift their existing economy to a green economy model, which requires green industries, creates green jobs, and demands green skills.

Rapid development of the green technology industry is not only important in the quest to develop the green economy: it also leads to a future human workforce who have a high awareness of environmental care.

Green skills are becoming imperative to employers along with conventional hard and soft skills. Research indicates that the larger the distance between green jobs created and the brown jobs lost in a green economy, the more costs accrue in a community. So supporting green skills development becomes integral for a healthy and streamlined transition to a green economy.

What Habits of Mind are Necessary for Green Jobs?

Climate change, global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, economic instability, health and safety issues related to buildings, waste, and energy in buildings are changing environmental factors that point to the need for green jobs and skills.

A new toolkit of workplace skills has become most relevant in the conversion to environmentally sustainable economies. Two main sets of green skills exist:

  • Engineering skills for the design and production of technology
  • Managerial skills for implementing and monitoring environmental organizational practices

A thematic breakdown of green skills job categories demonstrates how varied these job applications are:

  • legislation, labeling, and certification
  • materials, water, and construction techniques
  • energy efficiency and renewable energy sources
  • project design and management
  • information and communication technology

Green growth and sustainability transitions may occur in sectors which are not usually associated with eco-technologies. An example is green skills applied to the construction industry, which is a space that holds a very important role for climate crisis adaptation. Integration of green skills into the training of building construction trades will increase climate resiliency, aid in the development of more energy-efficient economies, and boost employment growth.

A Social Justice Vision Embraced through Green Skills

It makes sense that any green investments are most effective in communities whose workers have the appropriate green skills. Green skills require complex economic, environmental, and social justice contexts that are systemic and emergent in nature, given the transformative intent of moving towards a more sustainable society.

Greening key sectors is presumed to bring long-term benefits to people living in poverty, largely by stimulating economic growth, supporting diversification, and creating jobs in environmental restoration.

That vision may oversimplify a complex equation.

Social ecosystemic models within green skills development can forge stronger connections between working, living, and learning if they foreground regional, place-based models for skills planning. Those models point to the need for interfacing with vertical, top down faciliatory mechanisms and horizontal connectivities. To promote poor people’s empowerment means also addressing elite power. It means prioritizing participation of marginalized groups. It requires supporting adaptive, context-specific, and local policy approaches — all of which can be messy on the pathway to align green skills development with social justice, equity, inclusion, and poverty reduction.

Case Study: Skillsoft

Sustainability is no longer a nice-to-have but, rather, a strategic necessity and business imperative. Pressure is mounting for all organizations to be more socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable, with the ultimate goal of reaching a place of net-zero emissions. Many organizations are taking note, evidenced with hiring for green skills growing globally by almost 40% between 2016 — 2021. A net-zero transition requires a transformation of the global economy — no small task, as McKinsey estimates that $9.2 trillion in annual average spending will be needed for physical assets by 2050.

However, it is by no means insurmountable, and, as Stephanie Roe, global climate and energy lead scientist at the World Wildlife Fund and a lead author of the new IPCC report, phrases it, “there is a really amazing role that we can play, not just as consumers, but also as professionals.”

To be successful during these moments of change, companies and the leaders within those organizations need to ensure employees are not lost or left behind. Employees must be equipped with the skills needed to adapt to a zero emissions economy. Organizations are being asked by shareholders, employees, customers, and partners to do more to reduce their carbon footprint. In tandem, the demand for employees with green skills to support these efforts is rising and opening new doors.

New data shows that organizations have made green learning and development a much greater priority over the last 12 months. A comparison of consumption of green learning content on Skillsoft Percipio — a diagnostic assessment aligned to in-demand skills and vetted learning objectives — in 2021 to the year prior revealed the following:

  • 73% increase in organizations and 237% increase in learners accessing green content
  • 218% increase in the number of badges earned by learners upon completion of green courses
  • 134% increase in the number of searches for green content
  • 131% increase in total number of learning hours spent on green content

The following graphic shows the highest numbers of learners completing green courses.

green skills
Graphic provided by Skillsoft

Learners are proud of “greening” themselves and want the world to know. After all, these skills now expand far beyond the traditional green concepts of solar power and pollution prevention – lots more workers want the chance to show their prowess in the green skills needed for the future across a variety of fields and industries.

The Skillsets Embraced at Tesla

Electronic engineers work at the forefront of practical technology, and they have contributed to the development of a wide range of technologies. They design, test, and manufacture electronic devices which transform the way people live.

Have you ever wondered what green skills that engineers and others are at work at Tesla everyday?

Tesla products include electric cars, battery energy storage from home to grid-scale, solar panels and solar roof tiles, as well as other related products and services. At Tesla, the process of using computer software programs to design the layout of printed circuit boards (PCB) is specifically done by PCB designers. PCB designing software such as Eagle, KiCAD, or Altium are typical. Other key necessity skills are Shell scripting, PSPICE,  and Embedded Microprocessor.

  • Shell Scripting is a computer program that has been designed by Unix/Linux shell and is used for performing various operations like file manipulation, printing text, and program execution.
  • Pspice is a circuit simulating tool that allows the user to simulate a circuit and check output voltages and currents.
  • Embedded Microprocessors are employed in devices other than computers to boost functionality and control. Later, for ensuring that the system is working properly, electrical hardware testing is required where all the systems are tested as per their requirements.

Knowledge of SPI, PCIe, I2C, CAN and UART are auxiliary. Whew!

Final Thoughts about Green Skills

The time is now for business leaders to invest in upskilling current and future green talent, so that the global workforce can do its part to learn individual green skills. As a gestalt, these efforts will drive collective change.

From natural resources to energy sources to supply chains, businesses must adapt or be left behind. Further, climate change requires businesses to adopt sustainable practices to remain economically viable and be environmentally responsible. Green skills support is an important element for sustainable business successes.

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Twitter and Facebook.

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