Going Green: Why Green Talent and Skills Are on the Rise and Making Waves for Our Future
In today’s climate—quite literally—there’s no ignoring the evident and pressing environmental challenges facing the globe. From ecological degradation, massive amounts of plastic waste, unpredictable climate-related disasters, and the inducing anxiety it’s causing for younger generations, sustainability and environmentalism are no longer (and quite frankly never were) trends—it’s a critical initiative being put at the forefront because it’s crucial for the future of our planet.
While it is discouraging to see and hear such an abundance of negative environmental impacts, there is hope. As said by many, “there’s always two sides to the story.” And, as it relates to environmentalism and the future of our Earth, the positive side of this story comes in the form of what is being done to create a better world that we all want to live in.
According to a recent study from LinkedIn’s Global Green Skills Report 2022:
- “Green Talent” is growing by 38% year over year
- Jobs in green segments are increasing 237% versus 19% for industries like oil & gas
- Sustainability now appears in over 27% of all job postings
Although, as the world—again, quite literally—moves toward creating a more sustainable future, what are the skills required to adapt to a changing ecosystem? Furthermore, how can you instill a “greener” mindset for your organization, (even if it’s not in the industry)? And lastly, why does this matter and how can you take part in promoting positive environmental change as an individual?
Throughout this feature, we’ll look at:
- The reasons why things are changing
- “Green skills” that are gaining traction in the workplace
- Why employers need green talent
- Ways to make an impact right now
So, buckle up, and get ready for an (eco-friendly) ride.
It’s Just a Sign of the Times:
A Few Reasons the World is Working to Change
Whether you’re fully into the idea of living in a circular world dedicated to sustainability or are just getting your feet wet, the world is trying to get greener. But why are there changes? And what are the factors contributing to this shift?
To put it simply, it’s a combination of various factors working together to elicit a greater overall response. Meaning, one factor by itself may not elicit a grand response, but various factors bundled together can. Let’s explore further.
The Age of the Internet: Hello Social Media
Social media is arguably one of the most abundant tools driving actionable transformation throughout the world. How? Simple, it bridges the gap of distance between us; connecting all of humanity in a way that didn’t use to be possible. Now, more than ever before, people can seamlessly keep in touch with a simple swipe of their fingers.
Furthermore, for some, social media fosters a shared sense of “community,” meaning you can find individuals who share the same interests and passions as you—even if they are thousands of miles away. Social media also acts as a conduit for communication, inspiration, and more frequently—change. It is developing massive communities worldwide, with some of those communities taking to social media to create actionable change for the planet.
Albeit it’s critical to note that social media is a two-way mirror, and therefore, should require you to approach its use with a “grain of salt” mentality—meaning not everything on social media is entirely true, or in rarer cases, true at all. Social media is infamous for garnering fake reputations for some people (have you seen Inventing Anna or The Tinder Swindler on Netflix?) and needs to be used carefully.
With all that in mind, using social media to disrupt the status quo and promote positive change is a great thing, just make sure to use it in a way that helps, not harms.
The General Media
Much like social media, traditional media outlets, like CNN or Fox, are spending greater amounts of time covering climate and environmental-related challenges. This is not only helping spread the conversation further but allowing generations who consume a more traditional type of media to see, in real-time, the torrential downpour of negative environmental impacts happening worldwide.
Outlets like CNA Insider are showcasing the ugly truths of how the world’s choking on waste, with it only to continuously get worse if we do not change. However, and more importantly, some of this media coverage is sharing how people are trying to fix these problems and ways for individuals to get involved with making real change.
There is not much to be said here other than what’s obvious—generations experience different things, and therefore, typically deal with different problems throughout their lifetimes. Gen-Z cares a lot about environmentalism and sustainability, especially as it relates to consumer trends. When consumers demand change, (most of the time) they get it.
The beauty of documentaries is that they’re meant to tell a story, with the hope of creating and instilling lasting change throughout the world via the stories they tell. Documentaries such as Before the Flood, Milked, and A Plastic Ocean are not only telling stories about the negative impacts of unethical business practices, mass consumption, environmental degradation, and more, but they are instilling a feeling within their audiences that ultimately guides them to act.
Evidence: Plain and Simple
Most obviously, evidence is a key factor that is nearly impossible to ignore. There are various videos, pictures, articles, documentaries, and more that shed light on issues most of us wish we could go without knowing. However, in the world of today, taking action should be the way to best deal with the prevalent issues at hand.
A Greener Job Market: Skills Needed for a Greener Career
To start, let’s look at how the market defines “green” as it relates to the workforce. According to LinkedIn’s report, there are various meanings to green when referring to the labor market. Green skills are “those that enable the environmental sustainability of economic activities.” Green jobs are defined as “those that cannot be performed without extensive knowledge of green skills.” Lastly, green talent refers to “someone who has explicitly added green skills to their resume and is working in a green or greening job.”
Let’s explore further a few practical green skills, why they’re important, and how they can be implemented for careers inside and outside the green space.
While this may not be a “skill” traditionally, it can be argued that sustainability is more of a “mindset” that allows one to operate in a way that benefits both the consumer and the environment—without having to compromise on anything in between. Possessing a more sustainable mindset is a skill that is usable in any business, organization, and more. Sustainability is about finding ways to operate without harming anything along the way. It’s truly a win-win for everyone—people and the planet.
This skill comes in the forms of understanding and learning. First and foremost, environmental awareness starts quite literally with being aware of your surroundings. From there, you begin working to understand the environment and its functions. After you’ve become knowledgeable enough to understand (as much as one can) the environment, you move onto ways you can live in partnership with the ecosystem instead of putting yourself on top.
Corporate Social Responsibility
This skill falls more in line with an individual’s ethical beliefs and moral compass but possessing the mindset of CSR is a rare and critical skill that is needed when it comes to greener jobs. Why? Simply put, organizations and businesses trying to be genuinely sustainable need individuals who stay true to their roots—even when presented with tempting opportunities.
Learn Relevant Education
There is still a lot to learn and explore in the sustainability space. Finding programs, such as Graziadio’s SEER (Socially, Environmentally, and Ethically Responsible) Business Strategy certificate, led by, Dr. Robert Bikel, teaches students to focus on people, planet, and profits, with Graziadio adding a fourth “P” to the equation—product. SEER values are incorporated throughout the course and teach students four-macro values:
- People—corporate social responsibility
- Planet—environmental stewardship
- Profits—financial strength
- Product—illustrate the crux of the SEER philosophy
Practice What You Preach
While this skill is not listed directly on LinkedIn’s report, it is yet another component of the overall “sustainability mentality” that is critical for green careers. If you’re going to be part of an organization that is working to create a better world, it would make sense to adhere to some of those same values in your personal life. This isn’t saying you must be perfect; it is difficult to be fully sustainable. However, there are simple things one can do to make an impact. Being a Best for the World Leader means leading by example. If you’re going to go green, you must be willing to practice it outside of your company’s bounds as well.
An important note from LinkedIn’s report: The fastest-growing green skills are both mainstream and emerging. Meaning that even if your skills don’t correlate directly with “sustainability” in the traditional sense, it doesn't mean you cannot use your skills in a green industry.
Let’s take marketing for example. One doesn’t necessarily need a degree in environmentalism to use marketing as a conduit to promote positive environmentalism. One needs to be skilled at marketing to use it as a conduit for environmentalism. The same goes for various careers and skills. Lawyers, doctors, engineers, and everything in between will eventually (or are currently) going to be part of a sustainable future, using their skills in newer ways.
Remember this, anything can be taught. The mindset to create positive change comes first, the work to make a difference comes second.
A Greener Hiring Market: Food for Thought for Employers
There are numerous items that can be listed in terms of why employers need to cultivate and hire green talent, but the simple answer is this, sustainability is essential if businesses—quite literally—want to survive. The planet is dying, resources are dwindling, and irreversible ecological damage is eminent. While younger generations may be shaping the future of work, it still requires all generations to take part in fixing current and future problems. No company can exist without the presence of Earth, plain and simple. While it may be a cliché sentiment, there truly is no planet B.
Ways You Can Make an Impact Right Now
You don’t have to be an environmentalist or climate scientist to find ways to make a positive impact on the planet. See below for a few recommended practices you can start right now.
Prioritize Conscious Consumerism
It’s been said a lot and it’s still true—finding ways to make your purchasing power count does cultivate change. When consumers use their income—whether discretionary or not—it makes a noticeable difference. And, over time, that difference can create permanent change. It also doesn’t require much for you as a consumer; other than doing your research and committing to buying more ethical products for the long term.
Support Critical Organizations
There are thousands of organizations to which you can donate your time, money, or expertise. You can choose to support them however you decide is best but providing any type of support makes a difference.
Spread Awareness and Teach Others
Another simple way to make an impact and see sizeable returns is through awareness and education. Spreading awareness and teaching others are essential steps for making a difference and usually help drive the most notable change.
Remembering the Best for the World Leaders Mantra
As a final note, it’s important to remember the meaning of Best for the World Leadership. Whether you’re looking to work in a greener industry or want to bring a greener mindset to your current workplace, it’s imperative to remember Best for the World Leadership means setting the precedent for what it means to be an ethical leader—in business, entrepreneurship, or anything else. Change starts with you, and sometimes all it takes is one person to drive positive change for all.