Feb 23, 2022 - Economy

The green talent gap is widening

Illustration of an open briefcase with a small plant growing out of it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Demand for "green talent" is expanding across all industries — not just in what we think of as environmental sectors — but there aren't enough workers with the skills to fill those positions, according to new research from LinkedIn.

Why it matters: Companies and government leaders will need to step up efforts to equip workers with the skills needed to help employers be more environmentally friendly and achieve their ambitious climate goals.

The big picture: The nature of work is changing, not just where or how people do their jobs, but also the type of work they're doing in response to climate change.

  • "The Great Reshuffle," as LinkedIn calls it, has only accelerated since the pandemic.
  • The skills workers will need by 2025 to perform the same jobs will change by about 40%, and that doesn't even account for the new jobs being created by the global shift to a green economy, according to LinkedIn.
  • Green jobs tend to go "hand in hand" with technology, LinkedIn's chief economist, Karin Kimbrough, tells Axios.
  • "Those two are the twin transformers of the jobs market. Things are getting greener and more digital."

What's happening: Hiring for green skills grew globally by almost 40% between 2016-2021, but demand will soon outpace supply, Kimbrough writes in a new blog post.

  • While job postings requiring green skills grew at 8% annually over the past five years, the share of green talent has grown at roughly 6% annually in the same period.

Green jobs include more than just solar panel installers and sustainability consultants.

  • Some fast-growing green jobs involve broader roles like compliance manager, facilities manager or technical sales rep.
  • U.S. job listings in the "Renewables & Environment" sector grew 237% over the last five years — vs. 19% growth in oil and gas. By 2023, the sector will outnumber oil and gas jobs, LinkedIn predicts.

Meanwhile, more job seekers are listing green skills like ecosystem management, environmental policy and pollution prevention on their resumes.

  • But green skills can include any abilities or knowledge that people can use to do their jobs in a greener way, notes Kimbrough.
  • "It's everything from sustainable fashion — making fashion from sustainable materials — to architects thinking about how do I create a building that uses more natural light so I don’t have to cool it as much using air conditioning?"
  • "All of these things are elements of the green world of work that is coming towards us, or we are moving towards."

The bottom line: The shift to a green economy will require a green talent transition too.

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