Jobs and the Future of Work

Green job vacancies are on the rise – but workers with green skills are in short supply

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LinkedIn’s research found that green skills and jobs are proving to be particularly resilient at times of economic uncertainty. Image: Headway/Unsplash

Andrea Willige
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Future of Work

  • Green skills are in high demand, according to LinkedIn, where job postings outpace workers with the right skillset.
  • Allen Blue, Co-founder of LinkedIn, told the World Economic Forum that green skills are more likely to be hired and that green jobs are proving to be resilient.
  • To meet growing demand for green skills, both employers and workers need to focus on reskilling, an initiative supported by the Forum.

Job postings for 'green' jobs are growing nearly twice as fast as the number of workers with the skills to fill them. Only one in eight people currently have skills relevant to abating the climate crisis, with women at a particular disadvantage. These were the key findings of LinkedIn’s Global Green Skills Report 2023, which analyzed the site’s membership base in 48 countries.

“Trillions of dollars are being invested every year and will be for the foreseeable future. The efforts around climate are increasing exponentially. With all of that effort comes a lot of hiring,” Allen Blue, co-founder of LinkedIn, told the World Economic Forum about the opportunity green skills and jobs represent.

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Demand for green skills outpaces skills base

LinkedIn reports that between 2022 and 2023, the share of talent with the skills to help address the climate crisis grew by 12.3%. However, the share of jobs posted over the same period that required at least one green skill increased by nearly twice as quickly, at 22.4%.

Not surprisingly, job seekers with green skills were nearly a third more likely to be hired (29%) than the workforce average.

“You need to be able to hire people to improve your grid. You need to be able to hire people in order to be able to change your supply chain. And that growth is far outstripping the people who actually have those skills,” Blue highlighted.

Growth in demand for green skills is outpacing the increase in supply.
Demand is outpacing green job skills. Image: LinkedIn 2024

What are green skills?

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has repeatedly stated that accelerated action is needed in this decade to keep climate change in check.

“You need a lot of skills and know-how to either protect the environment, conserve resources or remove carbon,” Blue explained.

By identifying these capabilities and building talent strategies around them, employers can build the talent pool required to help solve the climate crisis.

“So we find some jobs where there's a real density of skills, but we find those skills across many jobs. Some of them are hardcore skills like chemistry for battery manufacture or packaging design, while others have to do with managing companies. Carbon accounting is a good example of that because companies need to be responsible for their Scope 3 emissions,” said Blue.

Fastest growing green skills in the European Union (2022).
Green skills are on the rise, from climate action planning to soil sampling. Image: LinkedIn 2024

Green skills offer resilient job roles

LinkedIn’s research found that green skills and jobs are proving to be particularly resilient at times of economic uncertainty. While overall, hiring slowed for the reporting period (February 2022-February 2023), job adverts for roles asking for at least one green skill grew by more than 15%. And looking back to 2020, the data shows that those with green skills have been hired at a higher rate than those without. This result was consistent across all 48 countries surveyed.

“Green skills are sustainable, meaning that basically they are going to be things that are applicable and useful for building a career for decades to come, because so much work needs to occur in the world of the climate transition. Also, if you have climate skills, it makes you very easy to hire for other future climate jobs.

“You can take advantage of that incredible flow of investment for your career,” Blue said.

Green Gender Gap: Key Findings.
The gender gap in green skills is increasing. Image: LinkedIn 2024

Breaking through the green ceiling

However, behind the headline statistics, LinkedIn also found significant gender differences. In its Green Gender Gap Report 2023, the company highlights that only 1 in 10 women have a minimum of one green skill. Among men, the share is 1 in 6. What is more, the gender gap has not reduced but grown by 25% over the past seven years.

“We also see that same gap in leadership roles. Women who are founding climate companies, women who are executives at climate-focussed companies, are substantially underrepresented.

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“The real challenge for us is to make sure that we're doing the things necessary to make the transition inclusive, not just for women, but for all kinds of people.”

Skills of LinkedIn members transitioning into green jobs.
STEM-related backgrounds make for an easier transition into green roles. Image: LinkedIn 2024

Growing green skills

With demand for green skills growing, Blue pointed out the gargantuan task for employers to bring talent up to speed: “We need to figure out a way to essentially reskill hundreds of millions of people, to ensure we can pursue the carbon transition without slowing down.

“It reminds me a little of the internet industry back in 2005, when software engineers were so in demand that companies began to do incredible things to attract them. Not only were they paying them more, but they were offering them training and creating apprenticeship programmes.

“Companies are going to have to do the same thing to make sure that they can get the climate and green talent they need to succeed.”

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Alongside expanding the skillsets of workers in jobs that increasingly require green skills, from construction to plumbing, this also means optimizing opportunities to break into fully-fledged green economy jobs. Eight in ten workers who succeed in moving into a role of this kind typically have some level of green skills or prior experience in the field. A STEM, public administration or professional services background, for example, can also be a pathway into a green role, the report finds.

The World Economic Forum’s Reskilling Revolution platform brings together more than 350 organizations to provide 1 billion people with better education, skills and economic opportunities by 2030. Over half of Reskilling Revolution’s efforts are targeted towards preparing workers for green jobs.

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Jobs and the Future of WorkClimate Action
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