Demand for Green Skills Is on the Rise. Here’s How to Meet the Moment

Help wanted. 

A large, global organization that represents flora, fauna, and minerals seeks candidates with a wide range of skills. These include carbon accounting, energy engineering, and sustainability education. We are a mission-driven organization with one goal: to save the planet. 

Were the earth an employer, it might post a job description like this right now. More than ever, the planet needs people with green skills to ensure it remains livable for generations to come. 

Yet demand for these skills is quickly outpacing the supply. In its Global Green Skills Report 2023, LinkedIn found that job postings requiring at least one green skill jumped by 22.4% from 2022 to 2023 while the share of green talent — workers who have held a green job or list at least one green skill on their LinkedIn profile — increased by only 12.3%. In other words, in the 48 countries we studied, demand grew at twice the rate of supply. 

The resulting skills gap is so serious that the Boston Consulting Group calculates it could lead to a shortage of 7 million green energy workers by 2030.

“There’s sort of an undercurrent that’s happening and I feel as if I’m probably early to this party,” Karin Kimbrough, LinkedIn’s chief economist, told an audience at Talent Connect 2023, “but everyone’s going to join me in a couple of years and will be saying, ‘Oh, we need to know more about green talent.’” 

Why not join the party now, so your company has skills it needs for the future? Read on to learn more about how you can hire or upskill for the green revolution. 

It’s not just energy and transportation: Nearly every aspect of the workforce will need green skills 

When you imagine green jobs, you probably think of solar power, wind power, and electric vehicles. And you’re right. The demand for workers in these industries is enormous, as countries race to reach net zero — the carbon emissions levels required to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 º C above preindustrial levels — by 2050. 

But the transition to an environmentally friendly economy requires green skills across all industries. That’s particularly true in financial services. Why? Because a lot of people are going to need to make investments on infrastructure and innovations if the planet is going to be protected. Think EV charging stations, solar power facilities, and climate-focused tech startups. 

Currently, 1 in 8 workers in the global workforce has green skills.Yet in financial services, it’s only 1 in 15. Even in Germany, which has the greatest concentration of financial green talent, only 1 in 9 finance workers has green skills. 

But it’s not just energy, transportation, and finance that will be affected — all industries will be. They’ll be looking for green skills in jobs such as supply chain manager, facilities manager, and policy advisor. “Green skills,” Karin says, “are permeating to almost every job.” 

To hire for green roles, consider skill adjacencies

A recent Manpower Group report found that 70% of employers are urgently recruiting or planning to recruit green talent and people with sustainability skills. But LinkedIn has found that it can be hard for workers to break into their first green job unless they have a few green skills or prior green experience. 

This presents something of a dilemma for talent professionals. But one way to hire for green roles is to consider skill adjacencies. There are certain skills that aren’t green that nonetheless increase workers’ chance of successfully transitioning into jobs that have a sustainability focus. 

STEM skills top the list because many green jobs rely on science and math. Digital skills can help as companies develop and deploy technological solutions to achieve sustainability goals. Expertise in utilities, mining, and agriculture are useful because these industries are greening rapidly. And public administration skills can be helpful as companies adhere to compliance and policy activities related to climate change. 

One way to attract candidates is by emphasizing the resilience of green roles, especially during times of economic uncertainty. For example, when overall hiring slowed globally between February 2022 and February 2023, job postings requiring at least one green skill grew by 15.2%. And since March 2020, workers with green skills have been hired for new jobs at a higher rate than those without green skills in every single country we studied. 

To save the planet, you’ll need to upskill and reskill 

Because there’s such a limited supply of green talent in the workforce, it’s not enough to simply hire for skills. You also need to upskill your workforce.

Investments in green technology will only get us halfway if employers fail to properly skill and reskill workers to operate in a greener future,” says Riccardo Barberis, president of ManPower Group Northern Europe Region. “Prioritizing workforce development must be a core pillar of net-zero strategies.” 

To get started, you might want to check out this LinkedIn Learning course, Closing the Green Skills Gap to Power a Greener Economy and Drive Sustainability, that is unlocked through December 31, 2025 and available to take free. 

There are also governmental resources that can help with green upskilling. In the European Union, companies can become members of the European Commission’s Pact for Skills, which offers webinars, seminars, and peer learning as well as a guidance hub that includes information about E.U. and national funding opportunities. 

Meanwhile, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the country’s central bank and financial regulator, recently announced that it will allocate $26 million over the next three years to support green upskilling and reskilling initiatives in the financial services sector. 

You could also tap into an organization like Elemental Excelerator, which partners with employers to offer a 10-week EDICT (Empowering Diverse Climate Talent) internship for aspiring climate professionals from underrepresented groups. These internships are a great way to provide early-career employees with green skills, while also building a talent pipeline. 

Be sure to include everyone in the green economy 

Because everyone is affected by climate change, everyone also needs to be given the opportunity to help reverse it.

But in the U.S., women and people of color are underrepresented in green and climate-related jobs. Only 20% of workers in clean energy production and energy efficiency are women and less than 10% are Black. The same lack of diversity goes for electricians, who are crucial for jobs such as installing electric car charging systems and managing battery usage. Yet 82.5% of electricians are white and less than 2% are women. 

When hiring or upskilling for green jobs, try to tap into as many sources of talent as possible. Make sure that your job descriptions are inclusive, emphasizing skills, rather than experience and degrees. Create hiring committees that are representative of people from many different backgrounds, so that candidates can imagine themselves at your organization. Build strong relationships with local postsecondary and community-based training programs that focus on teaching green skills. And consider offering apprenticeships or roles that include on-the-job training. 

Use green jobs as a way to attract Gen Z talent

Green jobs are also a great way to attract more Gen Z talent.

If there’s one thing that Gen Z candidates have made clear, it’s that they want to work for companies that align with their values. And young people across the globe are worried about climate change

After all, they are the ones who will have to deal with the more severe effects of climate change if it can’t be reversed quickly enough. They’re so concerned about this that a recent Deloitte survey found that 59% of Zoomers have either investigated a company’s environmental impact and policies before accepting a job from them or plan to do so in the future. 

According to a report by Zero Carbon Academy, the green policies that young people most want to see in an organization are “a net-zero target, a recycling strategy, green commuting support, use of a renewable energy mix, green real estate, and sustainability goals aligned with a just transition.” 

LinkedIn’s Green Skills report also found that Gen Zers and Millennials are accelerating their green skills much faster than Gen Xers and Boomers. So, consider all ages when trying to find these skills -— but keep a close eye on Millennials and Gen Zers. 

Final thoughts: One day, every job could be a green job

To save the planet, every job may one day become a green job. Bankers will need to understand emissions trading and sustainability reporting. Automakers will need to be well-versed in electric batteries. Software engineers will need to understand the environmental impact of new technologies.

As companies — and countries — strive to meet sustainability goals, the demand for green skills will only increase. To prepare your company for the future, think about hiring or upskilling for the green economy now. Yes, it’s good for business. But mostly, the planet’s future depends upon it.