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LinkedIn calls for green upskilling as demand for sustainability roles grows

New data reveals demand in the green labor market is accelerating faster than supply, fueling fears of a sustainability skills bottleneck.

Illustration of 4 people interacting with planet, including woman sitting on top of planet with tablet, man installing windmill

The sectors most likely to advertise for green skills include corporate services, manufacturing, and energy and mining, according to a new LinkedIn report. Image via Shutterstock/TeraVector

The global green skills crunch has worsened in recent years, according to new data from LinkedIn that suggests demand for executives with sustainability skills is continuing to outstrip supply.

The executive networking platform recently published its latest Green Skills Report, confirming that sustainability professionals worldwide are more in demand than ever before.

The report, based on recruitment data from across the tech giant's global platform, found the share of jobs requiring green skills has risen from 9.6 percent in 2015 to 13.3 percent in 2021, as hiring rates for green jobs has continued to accelerate alongside the adoption of corporate net zero strategies and rapid growth across clean tech markets.

The steady growth rate across the sustainability sector is especially notable against the backdrop of a global economic slowdown and market uncertainty, which has seen overall hiring rates slow, according to LinkedIn. 

However, while the number of job postings requiring at least one green skill has climbed 8 percent worldwide since 2015, the talent pool able to meet those requirements only grew by 6 percent. 

As such, the report concludes that while there has been a 40 percent growth in green skills since 2015, progress is "not fast enough" — with only 13 percent of the workforce possessing the skills needed to support a meaningful green transition. 

Sue Duke, LinkedIn's head of global public policy, warned the shortfall in sustainability skills could jeopardize corporates' efforts to deliver on their climate goals.

"The sustained growth of green jobs is really great news, particularly for job seekers who are facing upheaval in the labor market," she said. "But LinkedIn's data is clear that while there's strong demand for talent with green skills, people are not developing green skills at anywhere near a fast enough rate to meet climate targets. 

"There is an opportunity for everyone to help turn this around. Governments must champion the green skills agenda and businesses can and must do more to equip their employees with the skills needed to deliver genuine environmental change." 

The report highlighted how the sectors most likely to advertise for green skills include corporate services, manufacturing, and energy and mining.

However, many other sectors that are not considered "traditionally green" are also increasingly looking for specialist green skills, according to the report. For example, in the fashion industry the number of roles requiring expertise in "pollution management" has snowballed in recent years and is now 90.6 percent more prevalent than it was eight years ago.

The report also revealed how government net zero policies are feeding through into job opportunities, noting that "as countries go green, job opportunities emerge."

The U.S., U.K., and United Arab Emirates come off well in the report, ranking as the top three countries for green skills intensity. However, it also noted that some regions are struggling to translate headline net zero goals into job opportunities. For example, the report warned China in particular is displaying a "worrying trend" of a "shrinking pipeline of greening jobs" with the rate of green hiring declining every year since 2016. 

More broadly, the report warned all governments, policymakers and businesses needed to ramp up efforts to build out the global green skills base if ambitious net zero goals are to be met.

"Green skills are the core of the green transition and harnessing the shift of talent," the report states. "Through a targeted approach, we can progressively shift towards these greener jobs. We need more opportunities for those with green skills, we have to upskill workers who currently lack those skills, and we need to ensure green skills are hardwired into the skillset of future generations." 

The report also highlights how executives increasingly expect their employers to have ambitious climate strategies in place. It found just over 1 in 4 adults surveyed in Europe cite a company's sustainability as one of their non-negotiables when evaluating a firm's culture and values.

LinkedIn said it was aiming to help tackle the green skills gap with the launch of a new Sustainability Resource Hub designed to support companies and job seekers in developing their sustainability skills. 

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