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Climate change and its influence on adapting the future workforce

To many people, climate change has given young people a great deal of anxiety and driven the desire for many to work for an organisation directly taking climate action. The younger generation reportedly has higher levels of eco-consciousness, and these beliefs influence their career choices and the future working environment.

Continued climate-related events have not gone unnoticed. Individuals are using this eco-anxiety positively and being far more selective of how, where and what business they work for. Knowing that they are working for an environmentally and socially-focused organisation represents something more important than the actual salary and other associated benefits creates a real sense of purpose. In previous years it was common for people to remain with the same employer for some years, possibly for a large part of their career. Flexibility has, however, created a considerable shift in this style of working. 

Today’s prospective employee is exploring job opportunities that fit personal beliefs and are less inclined to remain in a job if it fails to meet their needs. Many people are searching for professional paths that incorporate flexibility and a sense of purpose, and demand for climate-related jobs is rising fast. Employers, career development professionals and educational groups must adapt their programs to focus on climate-related activities.

A previous study by Deloitte suggested that nearly 80% of the next generation respondents said it was vital to work for businesses whose values align with their own. Social values are of great importance to the new generation, and the challenges of climate change is a primary concern. A report by UK-based health insurance company Bupa found in 2021 that over 60% of 18 to 22-year-olds believe employers must be actively working on environmental issues. A further 59% said they would remain longer with employers that show clear signs of sustainable responsibility.

The rise of values-associated work is transforming the educational landscape. An increasing number of university students are looking for environment-related careers, and more programmes are appearing that are directly related to social and environmental impact studies. 

While more young people are interested in pursuing a climate-related career, many are not aware of the specific career pathways. There seems to be a mismatch in future career opportunities and the current training structure presented to the new era of employees. People are calling for sustainability to become a mandatory part of careers guidance in UK schools by 2025. Industry activists are urging the government to take more responsibility in supporting this change, focusing on the alignment of climate action and future careers and the necessary skills needed for green jobs.

There is a significant need for more climate action, combined with a rising number of young people looking for jobs in this market. The LinkedIn Global Green Skills Report released in February indicates that job posts requiring green skills have risen 8% every year over the last five years, exceeding the 6% increase in green talent. Yet it seems that there aren’t enough stable and well-paid jobs to meet the surging demand.

Studies suggest that students are more inclined to take a lower salary if the business is environmentally responsible. Alongside specific climate-related roles, many young people are also interested in sustainability-related jobs, even if they work in industries that may not focus directly on the environment. 

Climate change has created drastic changes in the global economy, making career decisions more challenging to predict. The concept of having a single career path that extends to the point of retirement is quite unrealistic. As the next generation moves into the workforce, it’s clear that many are actively looking for roles that contribute towards climate action. Whether it be changing career direction or researching the environmental credentials of a particular business, climate change is a critical part of future work plans. 

The job market will continue to progress and inevitably result in more climate-based opportunities. There is a rising demand for people with the necessary skills to manage new environmental regulations and will likely grow with further challenges and complexities. There needs to be a considerable shift in recognising that every job must be sustainable in some shape or form. Sustainability has become a critical part of the future workforce.

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