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Supporting the young generation make the transition toward a green future

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The next generation is on the brink of entering the labour market at a time of significant economic change, driven by the ongoing climate challenge. The urgency for all countries to make the transition from fossil fuels to a green economy is critical. If carefully delivered, the shift can tackle the climate crisis, protect our environment, improve gender equality and generate millions of new jobs. 

We have reached a critical time where economic changes are happening and can drive a green and just transition. A just transition toward a green economy cannot happen without tackling the challenges of inequality. To support and learn from young people in the face of these climate and economic challenges it is critical to understand their views and experiences on subjects related to the green economy. It is a critical time to recognise whether the younger generation is ready to be involved in emerging and changing industries, what jobs are available to them and what is needed to provide them with the necessary skills to drive a just transition toward a green economy.

A global survey by Plan International discovered that only one in three young people aged 15 to 30 feel confident in their skills to work in jobs that tackle climate change, with young women feeling less competent than men. A transition toward a green economy incorporating a low carbon, efficient and socially inclusive move is critical to avoid the impacts of climate change and limit global warming. The report by Plan International indicates that only 9% of the younger generation survey had applied or employed in a green job that focuses on climate change impacts.

Investment and skills as barriers to green industry jobs

According to the report, the main barrier to finding green jobs was a lack of initial capital and overall skills. Nearly 30% of respondents stated they didn’t know of any accessible job or income-generating opportunity within the green economy.

Jessica Cook, Climate Change Advisor at Plan International, explains that the younger generation will have to live with the impact of the climate challenge and are increasingly concerned about how climate change will impact their lives and future. The critical thing for all countries to shift from a fossil fuel economy to a green economy is vital. This research shows us that green jobs are not as widespread as required, and young people who are entering the workforce don’t feel prepared to pursue a career in the green industry. Significant action is needed to ensure young people have the skills, knowledge, and opportunities to support the shift in our sustainable economies. If well planned, we have the chance to protect our environment, improve gender equity and generation millions of new jobs.

The report also indicated that over 90% of young people surveyed were directly exposed to climate change, mainly through temperature change and rainfall, and 95% said they were concerned about climate change impacts. Despite these high figures, only 25% considered their employment tackled climate change and found it was one of the main factors influencing their career. Only 30% of young people believe their education has prepared them for work addressing the impacts of climate change. The findings highlighted that the top talent required to work in the green industry was environmental and ecosystem management skills, followed by leadership, research and data analysis.

Ahead of the upcoming climate summit, Plan International urges the government to provide more pathways toward green jobs. This approach could include incorporating sustainable development and green skills within education systems and providing young people with career support in green industry jobs and training opportunities. The organisation is pushing for a structured approach toward climate education capable of supporting skills development and providing inclusive opportunities for young people to access green jobs and skills. There is also a need for additional policies, strategies and financing to support a just transition to a green economy.

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