With the need for sustainability growing more and more every day, the corporate world requires more than a mere number of chief sustainability officers. It is evident that to meet the global sustainability challenges of today, an army of employees is needed, that can think about sustainability in their decisions, in all areas of business. This means everyone from product designers to supply managers need the knowledge to recognize unsustainable practices and find ways to improve sustainability for the comprehensive health of their companies and the planet. Employers are desperately looking for these skills, and this is precisely what green jobs are.
Unfortunately, there aren’t enough skilled workers to meet the exponential growth in green and sustainability jobs. Don’t be mistaken in thinking that green jobs only involve the installation of solar panels or the maintenance of wind turbines. It has been reported that sustainable fashion is one of the fastest-growing green jobs industry.
So, how does one train themselves for green jobs? Most sustainability and green jobs require creative problem-solving, synthesizing, and technical skills. Although most of those skills can be learned on the job, boosting the number of qualified job applicants will require more effective and accessible training opportunities that target employers’ needs.
One of the best ways to get a headstart in the sector is through university programs. Sustainability is increasingly being incorporated into a wide range of university programs. It is recommended to look for a competency-based approach to sustainability learning that blends content with skills and links knowledge to action to solve problems and develop solutions.
On the other hand, if you are a mid-career employee, who doesn’t have the time to reinvest in full-fledged degrees, a way to develop sustainability skills is through short courses and micro-credentials offered by universities, colleges, or even professional groups. A micro-credential might involve taking a series of courses or workshops focused on a specific skill, such as in wind energy technology or how to incorporate ESG criteria into business operations. These short courses require lesser time and are much cheaper than full-fledged university programs. Another similar option is job-focused online certificate programs with a sustainability specialization which is worth looking into if you do not wish to invest a lot of time and money in this.
In fact, the need for green jobs and overall practice for sustainability has become so important, that some companies have developed their own internal sustainability training in climate science, sustainable finance, sustainability reporting, and other skills.
Integrating sustainability across all functions of companies will require some level of sustainability training and understanding for most if not all employees. Companies like Starbucks, HSBC, Salesforce, and Microsoft have created internal training programs to spread sustainability knowledge and practice throughout their companies, not just for employees who have sustainability in their titles.
Research shows that only 43% of professionals in sustainability businesses had sustainability-related degrees, the rest were hired internally. This means that upskilling and sustainability training will be necessary in order to fill the increasing number of roles in companies. To close this gap between supply and demand, an increase in the levels of training will be required, not only in professional organizations but also in colleges and universities. Achieving global sustainability and meeting climate change challenges will become more likely as legions of people commit their working hours to sustainability solutions.