This article is part of a series in which OECD experts and thought leaders — from around the world and all parts of society — address the COVID-19 crisis, discussing and developing solutions now and for the future. Aiming to foster the fruitful exchange of expertise and perspectives across fields to help us rise to this critical challenge, opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the OECD.
There is a historic transformation of the future of work underway that is challenging the status quo and changing how we work, where we work and even why we work. It is up to all of us to use this moment as a catalyst to tackle one of the most pressing threats to humanity: the climate crisis. This transformation of work—or at LinkedIn what we call the Great Reshuffle—is an opportunity for the global economy to transition to a green economy. It is an opportunity to empower people with green skills, to create green jobs and to foster green entrepreneurship.
Achieving our collective global climate targets is a monumental task and it is going to take a whole-of-economy effort to make it happen. Policymakers, organisations and individuals must all work together to close the green skills gap and ensure we have the human capital we need to get to net zero.
Climate change is a threat multiplier in the world, and solving it needs to be a skills multiplier. That’s why every job needs to become a green job. And thankfully there is good news to report on this front.
Now is the time for governments, companies and individuals to come together to build the supply of green skills and talent needed to meet the growing global demand.
According to LinkedIn’s 2022 Global Green Skills Report, the share of global green talent increased from 9.6% in 2015 to 13.3% in 2021; a compound growth rate of almost 40%. We’re seeing green skills emerge not only in core sustainability areas like ecosystem management, environmental policy, and pollution prevention, but also in areas not traditionally considered green. In fact, sectors experiencing the most significant spike in demand for green skills are corporate services, manufacturing, energy and mining, public administration and construction. Green entrepreneurship, too, is growing at a faster rate than overall entrepreneurship, including in areas like software, design and FinTech.
Source: Global Green Skills Report 2022, LinkedIn
These trends are cause for celebration, but unfortunately our report also indicates cause for concern.
In short, we are not moving fast enough.
We are fast approaching a green skills shortage. While job postings requiring green skills grew at 8% annually over the past five years, the share of green talent only grew 6% annually in the same period—meaning demand is outstripping the supply of green skills. If we stay at this current rate, we will have a shortage of green skills in just five years’ time.
Now is the time for governments, companies and individuals to come together to build the supply of green skills and talent needed to meet the growing global demand. We need collaboration across sectors. We need to reimagine training and reskilling for the global workforce. We need to understand how green skills are being applied in jobs, pinpointing where gaps are emerging and what actions we can take to bridge them. Green skills are the building blocks of the green transition and the key to unlocking the human capital that will power it.
Educators, policymakers and business leaders are all vital in the effort to create more opportunities for those with green skills, upskilling workers who currently lack those skills, and ensuring green skills are hardwired into future generations. To enable data-driven policy solutions, we’re committed to making green skills and jobs data from our Economic Graph available to the OECD and other critical policy institutions through the Development Data Partnership.
We must prepare the next generation for the jobs of tomorrow. It’s up to us to put the right educational and vocational policies in place, advance green skills training and education, ensure equitable development of green skills, and invest in opportunities that make green skills accessible to all.
It is never easy to get hundreds of nations to move in a common direction, but it is our best hope to address the climate crisis and our biggest opportunity to power a new, clean economic engine for workers everywhere.
The green transformation is a golden opportunity. We need to assume the responsibility of making it happen together.
Read more on the Forum Network: Net-zero Economy, Net Economic Benefits: The green future of skills, jobs and infrastructure by Philip Jordan, VP, BW Research Partnership; Senior Fellow, Harvard University
And learn more about the OECD's work on greening jobs and skills