Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
1:01 AM 9th October 2023

Growing Green Talent For The Transition To Net Zero

Image by Vitor Bitencourt Silva from Pixabay
Image by Vitor Bitencourt Silva from Pixabay
According to new research, the scarcity of talent with climate change skills at both operations and board level is seen as one of the largest barriers to firms achieving their net zero targets.

The transition to a green economy requires a big shift in employee capabilities across all industry sectors and having the right talent in place will become increasingly important. Being behind the curve as an employer can also have wider implications for a firm’s capacity to recruit and retain personnel according to research.

Deloitte’s latest report indicates that over half of Gen Zs and Millennials review a brand’s environmental credentials before accepting a job, and more than 40% would change jobs due to climate concerns.

So, what can business leaders do to grow their green talent and help future-proof their businesses?

Audit your talent

The first step is to undertake some kind of audit, to find out what green skills, knowledge and qualifications already exist within an organisation. This will give clarity on existing internal expertise, as well as identifying gaps. According to LinkedIn’s Global Green Skills Report 2023, seven in eight workers globally lack a single green skill, so it is not unlikely that for many businesses, the gaps will be numerous. Green skills vary across industry sectors but are essentially the technical skills, knowledge and capabilities required to tackle environmental challenges and opportunities.

Seana Donnelly
Seana Donnelly
The gaps can then be mapped across to a firm’s sustainability ambitions and a plan of action created to address these. They may primarily be filled by training, either by someone internally or via a specialist third party. Alternatively, it could mean upskilling existing employees to take on new responsibilities or even recruiting for new roles. The LinkedIn report shows that the fastest growing green skills in the US and EU are in carbon accounting, carbon credits, emissions trading, impact assessment and sustainability.

Every job can be greener

According to the Independent Green Jobs Taskforce, backed by the government, every UK job has the potential to be green, with the ambition that people have the right skills to deliver the transition to a net zero economy. Proposals include working with employers to boost green apprenticeship opportunities and supporting more adults to gain the skills they need to progress into green jobs through upskilling, training programmes and green skills bootcamps.

Although increased support for UK employers is likely to ramp up over the coming years, LinkedIn’s latest Green Skills Report showed a median global increase of just 12.3% for green talent, versus an increase of 22.4% for green jobs, so the gap between supply and demand is growing at pace.

Business leaders need to take responsibility for their own sustainability skills transition therefore, in order to retain their competitive edge. Accepting that every job has the potential to be greener is achievable for companies of all sizes. This could be effected through measures such as including sustainability aspects in personal training and development plans, offering relevant training and mentoring programmes and emphasising sustainability skills within the recruitment strategy.

Upskill and recruit

In a competitive employment market with rising wage demands, offering the opportunity for green upskilling could be an effective retention tool for employers, as well as helping to develop the green talent pipeline. Deloitte research shows there is a strong appetite to learn new skills in the workplace and only 34% of employees surveyed were happy with their organization’s investment in their development. There is huge potential therefore for businesses to both build sustainability capabilities and position themselves as an employer of choice.

Recruiting for those with existing skills in this area will be more challenging and it’s important that companies have a genuine and accountable sustainability journey in place. Corporate accreditations and certifications, such as B Corp, the Good Business Charter, FutureFit Business and Planet Mark, offer independent levels of verification in terms of achieving sustainable development goals and will help underline credibility with potential green talent.

In summary, the gulf between those companies who prioritise and invest time and resource into growing their green talent and those who belatedly try to fill the gaps is only going to widen. Research shows that demand is increasingly outstripping supply in relation to sustainability skillsets, so transitioning employee capabilities should increasingly be on all board agendas in the count down to net zero.

Seana Donnelly is a Talent Manager at Progeny, a B Corp Certified company.