Green jobs: Are we on the brink of a global sustainability skills shortage?

The short answer, per the LinkedIn data, is “no” – and that the risk of a green skills gap will only grow in the future without concerted efforts from governments and employers to improve education provisions.

LinkedIn has stated that the global green hiring rate peaked at around 24% above the overall hiring rate in May 2023. It has, throughout the year so far, consistently been at least 15% higher than the overall hiring rate.

Green jobs have been created particularly rapidly in the US, where the green hiring rate exceeded the overall rate by 44% in June. This is doubtless partly attributable to the multi-billion-dollar Inflation Reduction Act, which is leading to steep growth in low-carbon sectors such as electric vehicle manufacturing, renewable energy and hydrogen.

The UK’s peak green hiring rate also came in June, at 30% above the overall rate. Similar peaks were recorded for Spain and France.

In June, LinkedIn stated that global green job postings had increased 15.2% over the prior 12 months. This was in contrast to a slight decrease in overall job postings.

LinkedIn has now stated that these roles can be challenging to break into without specific, sustainability-related skills. 80% of professionals who have entered a green job this year had at least some prior relevant experience or skills. Yet less than 15% of LinkedIn users have any relevant experience or skills for a career in the green economy.

On a global basis, women are more likely to lack green experience and skills, LinkedIn found. 16% of male LinkedIn users say they have such experience compared to 10% of female users.

Skills most highly in demand include carbon accounting and auditing, energy auditing and management, and engineering for energy infrastructure.

Sustainability analysts and strategists are also in demand across the US, the UK and the EU. This demand is not purely driven by large businesses; a separate study from sustainability platform Rimm Sustainability recently found that 35% of UK-based small and medium-sized businesses now have an in-house chief sustainability officer. This study polled executives at 500 different businesses earlier this year.

LinkedIn is warning that businesses and governments must increase funding to create skilled green economy workers, including the provision of dedicated investment in upskilling existing workers.

LinkedIn’s co-founder Allen Blue said: “As climate leaders prepare to gather in Dubai for COP28, the data shows there is a sustainable skills shortage in every country and every industry around the world. While companies are hiring for green roles there simply aren’t enough people with the skills needed to meet our climate needs. Unless we tackle this challenge urgently, we simply will not meet net-zero targets.”

Tools and resources

LinkedIn has already introduced several features intended to support users in finding and applying for green jobs. One of these is guidance on how to use the site’s job search filter to search for roles that require green skills.

It also hosts a learning content hub of videos on green jobs, outlining some of the day-to-day roles and responsibilities of sustainability professionals and detailing potential career pathways to entering the profession.

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