Building the jobs of tomorrow and delivering a resilient and sustainable economy

5 minutes read

We face many challenges with securing talent, enabling social mobility and increasing our resilience to further disruption. Furthermore, the climate challenge and current geopolitical situation are accelerating the movement towards green economies and increased energy independence.

Creating a socially inclusive and sustainable economy is critical for many nations. Social and green-focused jobs have a vital part to play in addressing the challenges mentioned above. In particular, green jobs, defined as roles with specific green skills, are crucial to enabling a shift toward a more sustainable economy. 

A report by the World Economic Forum quantified the requirement for social and green jobs in ten countries by 2030 to achieve our inclusion and environmental goals. Within the report, the green workforce represents just 1% of total employment in the ten leading economies (Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States). The UK is considered a priority nation for green jobs, but all countries will need to increase their green workforce to achieve their environmental objectives. The report serves as a call to action for business leaders and governments worldwide. To enable a more environmentally sustainable society, leaders must focus on bolder job-creation investment plans and applying an inclusive approach that allows businesses, governments and other relevant stakeholders to align on a new vision for better job creation.

Understanding where there will be a need for green jobs by 2030 will enable us to tackle social and environmental challenges. During the pandemic, many countries focused on the importance of people in various industries like healthcare and education. Enabling social mobility and improving our resilience are critical for the future. Similarly, the climate challenge has made the transition to a greener economy even more important, combined with rising geopolitical tensions, reinforcing the need to be more independent and reliant on sustainable energy sources.

Social and green jobs can support nations in improving resilience and addressing reductions in emissions. However, there is a consistent gap between the number of existing green jobs in most economies and the number of jobs capable of supporting countries in achieving their climate and emission reduction targets by 2030. This gap is known as the ‘unmet need’. The report by the World Economic Forum intends to determine this unmet need for green jobs in 10 leading economies. By calculating this, the report hopes businesses and governments can gain the support they need to make the right investment plans to ensure the future workforce is prepared to meet the expected environmental outcomes. The report follows on from the World Economic Forum’s Jobs of Tomorrow. This study concluded that investing in green and social industries would generate additional jobs, boost the GDP and enhance social and environmental outcomes. 

We need specific jobs to support our environmental targets and secure a sustainable future. Studies show that there are significant gaps in the talent available in environmental, social and education sectors. For example, UNESCO has projected an approximate shortfall of 20 million teachers to achieve sustainable development. 

The green jobs analysed in the report incorporate a range of disciplines from agricultural and forestry to environmental policy and earth sciences. Green industry jobs are critical for an economic transition and for enabling environmental sustainability. To reach the goals defined in the Paris Agreement, a commitment to maintaining global temperatures rises below 2 degrees celsius requires a workforce predominantly made of green skills. In the ten major economies highlighted in the World Economic Forum study, only 1% of the workforce is green-focused. If climate targets are to be achieved, there must be a significant rise in green jobs. On a more positive note, the number of workers with green skills has increased, with a nearly 40% increase in green industry talent between 2015 and 2021. However, green industry jobs only make up about 10% of the job postings on LinkedIn. 

As countries continue implementing new climate measures, our workforce must achieve these actions connected to these pledges by a concerted effort to transition towards green jobs. Inequality and sustainability are vital issues for policy-makers, business leaders and most people worldwide. This focus creates the drive for necessary and targeted investments to increase the green industry and associated jobs, supported by re-employment policies and support for transition between other sectors. Furthermore, such policies will require training, upskilling and reskilling plans. By quantifying the unmet needs, the World Economic Forum report aims to deliver a call to action for businesses and governments to invest in green skills development and training and help prepare industries and the workforce for the requirements and jobs of the future.

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