Article: Addressing skill & talent shortages amidst the rise of green economy - Strategies to consider


Addressing skill & talent shortages amidst the rise of green economy - Strategies to consider

Forward-thinking strategies are essential to overcome skill shortages. It is clear we need to be looking for sustainability skills in each new hire, but the far more crucial work centres on upskilling the existing workforce stated Mili Majumdar.
Addressing skill & talent shortages amidst the rise of green economy - Strategies to consider

The talent shortage in the green economy presents a significant challenge with far-reaching consequences. Globally, statistics reveal that only 1 in 8 employees currently possess the necessary green skills essential for roles in sustainable industries. This gap becomes even more pronounced within the European Union, where the ratio worsens to 1 in 9. Such a stark disparity underscores a critical issue: as companies expand their focus on environmentally sustainable practices and green initiatives, they encounter substantial hurdles in securing qualified individuals equipped with the requisite expertise to fill these roles. 

This shortage of skilled talent in the green economy translates into several adverse outcomes. Firstly, it impedes the growth and development of industries that are vital for combating climate change and promoting environmental sustainability. Without a sufficient workforce possessing green skills, businesses may struggle to innovate and implement eco-friendly practices, thereby slowing down progress towards achieving global sustainability goals. 

Additionally, the talent shortage can lead to increased competition among companies for the limited pool of qualified candidates, potentially driving up recruitment costs and hampering organisational productivity and efficiency, highlighted Mili Majumdar, MD GBCI India, SVP, US Green Building Council, during an exclusive interview with People Matters. 

Excerpts from the interview: 

How has the green economy landscape evolved over the past few years?

Over the past five years, the green economy has experienced remarkable growth and has been recognised as a key tool for achieving sustainable development in both developing and developed nations. Companies across sectors are now integrating sustainable practices into their core strategies, reflecting a 60% increase in corporate sustainability initiatives. Countries around the world have set ambitious targets to reach net zero requiring a seismic shift across global economies and industries to change the way we do things. India has made a commitment to achieving the Net Zero emission target by 2070, demonstrating its active engagement in global climate initiatives. 

During the Conference of the Parties (COP26) held in Glasgow in 2021, India not only reaffirmed its dedication to these goals but also pledged to enhance its contributions. Both governments and businesses are looking hard at how to drive this green transition further and faster. Governments are setting the national direction and organisations are reinventing their business models in order to play their part. The good news is that we are seeing this progress reflected in hiring for green jobs.

What are the key skills and talents that are currently in high demand within the green economy?

The demand for skilled professionals in the green economy is evident in the increasing number of job postings. Data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics reveals a 20% growth in job opportunities related to renewable energy and environmental sustainability over the last three years. Specific skills such as proficiency in renewable energy technologies have experienced a 15% surge in demand, while positions requiring expertise in sustainable design and construction have seen a 12% increase. Soft skills like adaptability and innovation are also highlighted in 70% of job descriptions in the sector. 

Industries like farming, ranching, forestry (53.29%) and construction (49.46%) have undergone significant green transformation and have the highest growth of green talent share in India. Others such as oil, gas and mining show a high share of green talent (28.77%) and high year-over-year growth 13.56%. These industries are in the more advanced stages of green transformation. According to LinkedIn Global Green Skill Report 2023, between 2022 and 2023, the share of green talent in the workforce grew by a median of 12%, while the share of job postings requiring green skills grew 22.7%. This supply-demand disconnect is likely to rise considerably without significant workforce investments — particularly in sectors like finance, manufacturing, and renewable energy — as policies designed to curb climate change are introduced and rolled out in countries around the world.

What role do government policies play in addressing skill and talent shortages in the green economy?

Governments worldwide are recognising the important role of policy in addressing skill shortages in the green economy. For instance, in the United States, since 2019 federal funding for renewable energy research and development has increased by 30% supporting initiatives that aim to close the skills gap. Additionally, tax incentives for companies investing in sustainability measures have resulted in a 25% increase in enrolment in environmental science and sustainability programs at educational institutions, indicating a positive response to policy-driven initiatives. Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) launched GSDP in 2017 which is implemented through the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). 

The programme aims to create a pool of skilled and certified workforce in the environment and forest sector, including biodiversity conservation, pollution management, and renewable energy. It focuses on providing training and certification in various “green skills” to the youth, particularly from rural and underprivileged communities for sustainable development of the country. 

According to Skill Council for Green Jobs report, currently Skill Council for Green Jobs (SCGJ) and Green Skill Development Programme (GSDP), have collectively trained around one million candidates for opportunities related to green growth. Despite the efforts being made by over 500 government and private training institutes, there is still a significant need to increase the number of candidates trained to achieve green growth at a faster pace. Several systemic challenges must be addressed to accelerate the skill building efforts. These barriers include lack of policies for green skill development, funding gaps, inadequate skill infrastructure, exclusion of vulnerable groups.

At GBCI, we are actively addressing the skill gap and talent shortage in the green economy through our comprehensive courses. Our collaboration with nearly 40 Education Partners has resulted in the delivery of approximately 1.3 million hours of content by the year 2023. With over 88,000 individuals utilising our course catalogues, we strive to enhance knowledge and proficiency in sustainable practices. Furthermore, GBCI is dedicated to professional development, our Center for Green Schools is reaching nearly network of 300 school district staff members who collectively serving over 8 million students. Our LEED Lab initiative spans 43 institutions across 12 countries, engaging a participation of 2,400+ students to date.

How is technology influencing the skill requirements in the green economy, and how is your organisation adapting to these changes?

The influence of technology on skill requirements is palpable, with a major increase in demand for professionals skilled in data analytics for sustainability reporting.  The green economy, at the nexus of technology and sustainability, is witnessing a transformation in skill requirements. Technological advancements are reshaping the workforce in this sector. 

At GBCI, we continuously adapt to the changing needs of the global marketplace, advancing our knowledge and expertise to accelerate the adoption of green business practices and enhance their effectiveness around the world. We regularly evolve high quality technical and market expertise to uphold relevance, rigor and credibility of GBCI programs. 

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Looking ahead, what strategies do you think will be essential for leaders to overcome skill and talent shortages in the growing green economy?

Forward-thinking strategies are essential to overcome skill shortages. It is clear we need to be looking for sustainability skills in each new hire, but the far more crucial work centres on upskilling the existing workforce. In most cases, these teams are skilled and professional – they simply need help growing the sustainability skillset around what they already do. Here is where many global firms are closing their sustainability skills gap, by upskilling their existing workforce with key new skills.

Collaborative efforts between industry and academia can increase the number of educational programs tailored to green economy needs. In terms of diversity and inclusion, companies with inclusive hiring practices can increase in employee satisfaction and a improvement in innovation metrics. Additionally, ongoing learning initiatives, supported by an increase in corporate training budgets, can ensure that employees remain adaptable and skilled in the latest sustainable practices and technologies. Organisations must go beyond merely establishing additional green positions meant for a future wave of environmentally conscious workers. 

The pressing and substantial nature of the climate change crisis demands that current workforce members acquire green skills while on the job. To address this, it is crucial to pinpoint the specific green skills pertinent to each role and industry, enabling the creation of focused and customised reskilling initiatives. Additionally, by offering reskilling prospects to workers in countries previously overlooked during economic upturns, we can broaden access to the economic benefits arising from the forthcoming green transformation.

How can the industry as a whole work towards creating a sustainable talent pipeline for the future?

Creating a sustainable talent pipeline for the future in any industry requires collaboration between various stakeholders, including educational institutions, employers, and policymakers. Industries should foster collaboration between educational institutions and employers, aligning curricula with industry needs and promoting internships. Lifelong learning initiatives and upskilling programs should be encouraged to adapt to evolving skill requirements. 

Embracing diversity, integrating technology into education, and advocating for supportive government policies are crucial steps. Data-driven decision-making can identify skill gaps, while remote work opportunities broaden the talent pool. Professional development programs within organisations, such as mentorship initiatives, contribute to nurturing talent. These strategies aim to create a dynamic and resilient workforce.

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Topics: Recruitment, Talent Management, #HRTech, #HRCommunity

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