These are the skills that young people will need for the green jobs of the future – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology

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This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Victoria Masterson, Senior Editor, Educational Content


  • Agriculture, architecture, science and education are some of the sectors that will need new green skills, according to the United Nations Environment Program.
  • Nearly half of young people believe they don’t have the right skills, according to the World Economic Forum’s Davos Labs 2021 Youth Recovery Plan.
  • In the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2020 report, employers estimate that four in ten workers will need to be retrained.

Making smart decisions today could empower the world’s youth to succeed in the green jobs of tomorrow.

But shaping those decisions can be tricky because many of these future jobs don’t exist yet.
The United Nations Environment Program stepped in with a helping hand in the form of GEO-6 for Youth – a digital guide to sustainable career choices and the skills needed to thrive in green industries.

Here are six categories of key skills that can help you build a successful career in the future.

a diagram explaining that the green economy will need young people with a range of different skills
The green economy will need young people with a range of different skills. Image: GEO-6 for Youth, United Nations Environment Program

Scientific skills: The green economy of the future will depend heavily on workers with a solid scientific background. Key roles will include environmental scientists, biologists, hydrologists and biochemists. Those in these jobs will monitor, manage and protect natural resources, including valuable land and water supplies.

Architectural and planning skills: Buildings will become more energy efficient, with fewer resources used to construct and operate them. Architects and planners will design these buildings to comply with environmental regulations and customer demands for green spaces.

Engineering skills and green technologies: Young people of today will be the green engineers of tomorrow, helping to design and maintain solar panels, wind turbines, low-emission vehicles and other green economy technologies.

Agricultural skills: As agriculture and the food supply become more sustainable, there will be an increasing number of green jobs in areas such as organic farming, urban farming and precision farming. This involves using data to measure and improve the efficiency of agriculture.

Competences in environmental justice: Workers in this field will operate at the intersection of human rights and environmental rights. They will gain legal, social and historical awareness to ensure that humanity does not repeat the mistakes of the past that have led to racial and social injustice and poor environmental and social health.

Systems skills: The green economy will need workers who can design, operate and monitor a wide range of systems. They will need to assess systems against performance indicators and find ways to optimize and improve system operations. They will need macroeconomic skills to integrate sustainability into long-term infrastructure projects.

a diagram showing that a more sustainable fashion industry would offer a range of different types of jobs
A more sustainable fashion industry would offer a range of different types of jobs. Image: GEO-6 for Youth, United Nations Environment Program

Green economy jobs

Millions of new jobs and careers will be created in the green economy. But creating new jobs is only part of the equation. It is essential to develop a skilled workforce.

According to the World Economic Forum Davos Labs 2021 Youth Recovery Plan, almost half of young people believe they do not have the skills necessary to guarantee them a decent job in the next five to ten years.

The report sets out 40 policy recommendations by young people between 20 and 30 years old. These include offering tax credits to businesses that invest in retraining or skills upgrading – and creating an online skills aggregator that links cities’ future skills needs with initiatives to improve skills. further training or retraining.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the clean energy transition?

Switching to clean energy is key to tackling climate change, but over the past five years, the energy transition has stagnated.

Energy consumption and production contributes two-thirds of global emissions, and 81% of the world’s energy system is still based on fossil fuels, the same percentage as 30 years ago. In addition, improvements in the energy intensity of the global economy (the amount of energy used per unit of economic activity) are slowing. In 2018, energy intensity improved 1.2%, the slowest rate since 2010.

Effective policies, private sector action and public-private cooperation are needed to create a more inclusive, sustainable, affordable and secure global energy system.

Benchmarking progress is essential for a successful transition. The World Economic Forum Energy transition index, which ranks 115 economies on how they balance energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability, shows that the biggest challenge facing the energy transition is the lack of preparedness among the world’s largest emitters. world, including the United States, China, India and Russia. The 10 countries with the highest preparedness scores represent only 2.6% of global annual emissions.

To sustain the global energy system, the Forum Shaping the future of energy and materials platform works on initiatives such as, Systemic efficiency, Innovation and clean energy and the Global Battery Alliance encourage and enable investments, technologies and innovative energy solutions.

In addition, the Mission Possible Platform (MPP) is working to bring together public and private partners to continue the industry transition to put the heavy industry and mobility sectors on the path to net zero emission. MPP is an initiative created by the World Economic Forum and the Commission on Energy Transitions.

Does your organization want to work with the World Economic Forum? Learn more here.

Green energy skills

The demand for green skills is particularly acute in the energy sector. Estimates suggest he might need 400,000 new recruits by 2050, “more than half of them in roles that do not currently exist,” says Steve Holliday, President of the Energy Institute.

Besides engineering roles, various skills such as behavior change, digitization and data will also be needed, he adds.

this graph shows that critical thinking and problem solving will be among the key skills needed over the next five years
Critical thinking and problem solving will be among the key skills needed over the next five years. Image: Future of Jobs Report 2020, World Economic Forum.

Recycling for the future

The adoption of technology is a key driver in developing the skills required for emerging sectors.

In his Future of Jobs Report 2020, the World Economic Forum notes that the adoption cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence and other technologies are priorities for business leaders.

“On average, companies estimate that around 40% of workers will need retraining in six months or less,” the report says, adding that “94% of business leaders say they expect employees learn new skills on the job, a sharp increase from 65% in 2018. ”


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