Davos Agenda

The social and green jobs the world needs to fill

This image shows a worker installing solar panels, indicating the need to fill more green jobs

More social and green jobs needed for inclusive and sustainable economies. Image: Photo by Bill Mead on Unsplash

Sam Grayling
Insights Lead, Work, Wages and Job Creation, World Economic Forum
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Davos Agenda

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

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  • The world lacks the social and green jobs needed to provide a more inclusive, socially mobile and sustainable economy and society.
  • Meeting these needs requires over 60 million social jobs and 12 million green jobs across ten countries studied.
  • Solving these shortages requires alignment on and implementation of a new vision for a better future of work between businesses, governments and unions.

A growing and ageing global population looks to exacerbate existing issues with social mobility, human capital development and societal resilience. Meanwhile, geopolitical tensions are amplifying the need to find alternate energy sources amid the already urgent need to transform into a more sustainable economy.

More social jobs, those in education, healthcare and care, can help address social mobility, human capital and resilience issues. Similarly, more green jobs are essential for enabling an environmental transition.

The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Accenture, is providing foresight to leaders on which jobs can help drive societal and environmental change. By working together to create these social and green jobs, businesses, governments and unions will drive better job creation, better transition support for workers and a more inclusive and sustainable global economy and society.


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Jobs of Tomorrow

The World Economic Forum’s Jobs of Tomorrow: Social and Green Jobs for Building Inclusive and Sustainable Economies, in collaboration with Accenture, sought to understand the social and green jobs required to transition to a more socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable world.

We did this by comparing how many social and green jobs exist across ten countries (Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, South Africa, Spain, the UK and the USA) relative to four benchmark countries (Denmark, Norway and Sweden – with Finland included only for social jobs) that are top performers in the World Economic Forum’s Global Social Mobility Index and Energy Transition Index and projected forward to 2030. We called the gap between each country and the benchmark countries the unmet need for jobs to help address social mobility and environmental gaps.

The insights from assessing the unmet need across these 10 countries can help establish a better future for workers and for society.

Here’s what we found:

Social Jobs represent 11% of the total workforce in the 10 countries we studied:

  • These countries will need over 60 million additional social jobs – an increase of over a third of current levels.
  • This unmet need includes 33 million healthcare workers, 21 million education workers and 10 million care workers, representing increases of 52%, 25% and 32% respectively.
  • These jobs are crucial to reverse the inadequacies of social mobility and to enable countries to meet their economic potential.
  • Specific occupations with the greatest unmet need include personal care workers in health services (18 million); child care workers, teacher aides and early childhood teachers (12 million); and, primary and secondary education teachers (9 million).
  • We expect South Africa, Brazil and Spain to have the greatest unmet need, but even Japan – with the least unmet need in the sample – requires an additional 1.4 million social jobs – an increase of 18%.

The green workforce is currently far smaller than the social workforce – in the countries we studied, just 1% of total employment meets our definition of green jobs – yet these jobs are essential for an environmental transition.

  • These countries will need over 12 million additional green jobs – an increase of over two-thirds of current levels.
  • This growth includes more agricultural and forestry workers (11 million); more environmental, civil and chemical engineers (over 70 thousand); and, more environmental construction roles (almost 80 thousand).
  • This unmet need for green jobs is particularly prevalent in South Africa, China, the United Kingdom and Brazil, however, all countries will need to increase their green workforce to meet environmental objectives.

The insights from the World Economic Forum’s Jobs of Tomorrow: Social and Green Employment to Enable Inclusive and Sustainable Economies by 2030, in collaboration with Accenture, highlight the types of social and green jobs the world needs to provide an inclusive and sustainable society and economy.

We can only achieve this through a multistakeholder approach. Businesses, governments and unions must align on a new vision for a better future of work. They must commit to boosting foresight on labour market trends to prepare for the future, identify investments in key sectors that lead to good job creation and support high job quality, fair wages and dynamic job transitions.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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Davos AgendaJobs and Skills
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