Green Talent Is In Demand But A Skills Shortage Means Recruitment Is Tough, New Research Says

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LinkedIn has released its inaugural Global Green Skills Report. Claimed to be a first of its kind, it has used real-time data sourced from its 800 million platform users, over a six-year period, to gain insight into vacancies and skills within the green sector. A key takeaway is that green talent is being increasingly sought out by corporates, but professionals are not topping up their skills proportionately to be considered potential candidates for roles.

If the current trend continues, LinkedIn’s report claims that demand for green professionals will outweigh supply within five years. To get ahead of the curve, professionals need to acquire new capabilities now.

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Understanding the need for green skills

Green skills are any that contribute meaningfully to a zero-carbon and clean economy. They bring together environmental and economic sustainability. Engineering and scientific qualifications are a natural fit, when applied for environmentally benefit, but all sectors can align. For example, clerical workers can be au fait with paperless office management systems. This is a green skill.

Overlooking the potential of existing industries to perform within greener frameworks is where part of the problem begins. While tradespeople might not consider themselves to be in a position to make a difference, the opposite is true. Plumbers can gain knowledge of sustainable heating and irrigation systems, just as builders can source greener materials for their projects. Everybody has a role to play.

LinkedIn describes four types of roles: green, greening, greening potential and not green. They represent the full spectrum of green experience and can be applied to multiple sectors. With three out of four categories requiring at least one green skill, the uptick in demand is clear. Hiring for green skills grew by 40 percent, according to the report. This was broken down to show an increase of 8 percent in roles specifically listing green skills needed, but relative talent has only grown by 6 percent during the same period. More worryingly, out of every 10,000 people leaving a not green role, only one moves into a green job. Meaningful change will only crome from making access to green skills easier and cost-effective.

Mind the gap

Gender gaps are not a new concept and they have been proven to exist within the green skills arena as well. The report claims that for every 100 men deemed to be green talent, only 62 women were granted the same acknowledgement. That being said, in some countries, female-identifying professionals are leading the pack. Ireland, Cyprus, Canada and the Netherlands are included.

Switching to greener roles isn’t only hindered by gender. Age and education levels are factors as well. Younger workers are improving their green skills at twice the pace of older counterparts and those with degrees overshadow school leavers.

Leading by example

Solving the global climate crisis requires the drawing together of varied skills, to create new solutions. Gender, industry and location should not prevent this. Nor should fear of entrepreneurship. 

Research shows that green entrepreneurs are on the rise, but only 3 percent of leaders sought to add green skills to their portfolio in 2021. Sustainability, including design, plus renewable energy are the most commonly acquired green skills in company leaders.

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The solutions

Green skills training needs to be implemented now. LinkedIn’s report places the responsibility firmly at the feet of policymakers and business leaders to make access to education possible and worthwhile. The climate crisis cannot be solved by a handful of skilled people alone, it needs a global shift in the workforce to drive new systems. A move away from passive to active engagement of said skills will prove essential as well.

Over in Germany, The VGN is an example of said transfer in practice. Founded by four ex-Lidl managers, the company is seeking to leverage a combined wealth of marketing and purchasing expertise. Instead of using it for limited plant-based releases for a large grocery chain, the four have teamed up to launch a fully vegan food production company. The first launch is a liquid whole egg replacement, made from broad beans.

Ethical recruiters are looking to help close the skills gap. Emma Osborne, founder of Citizen Kind, helps place workers within companies that make change their mandate, not just profits. Ir was born out of Osborne’s personal frustrations at having worked for companies that didn’t offer anything other than fiscal remuneration, so now looks to help others make the leap to fulfilling and sustainability-driven careers.

Educational establishments are seeking to close the skills gap with practical additions to their prospectuses. The National University of Singapore is one of them. It has announced a new course module dedicated solely to alternative meats. Arming new entrants to the job market with futureproofed skills in this way will, hopefully, become more prevalent.

Photo by Los Muertos Crew from Pexels.


  • Amy Buxton

    A long-term committed ethical vegan and formerly Green Queen's resident plant-based reporter, Amy juggles raising a family and maintaining her editorial career, while also campaigning for increased mental health awareness in the professional world. Known for her love of searing honesty, in addition to recipe developing, animal welfare and (often lacklustre) attempts at handicrafts, she’s hands-on and guided by her veganism in all aspects of life. She’s also extremely proud to be raising a next-generation vegan baby.

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