Efrem Bycer, from LinkedIn‘s Sustainability and Workforce Policy Partnerships, highlights the urgent need for a skilled global workforce to tackle climate change through ‘green jobs’.

The transition to a green economy requires not just bold climate action but also a workforce equipped with the necessary skills. This is especially relevant for Generation Z, who view climate change as both an existential threat and an economic opportunity.

New findings from LinkedIn reveal that only 1 in 20 Gen Z workers globally have the green skills needed to address the climate crisis, compared to 1 in 8 of the overall workforce. Despite this, more than half (61%) of Gen Z workers aspire to work in green jobs within the next five years.

Three key trends have emerged from this research:

High Ambitions, Significant Barriers

Gen Z is highly motivated to address climate change, with a greater commitment to climate solutions than previous generations. However, they face several barriers to entering green jobs. Seventy-three per cent of Gen Z are more concerned about climate change than a year ago. Over half (54%) report that climate change negatively affects their mental health, known as ‘eco-anxiety.’ The main barriers to securing a green job include a lack of available opportunities (63%), lack of experience (45%), and lack of green skills (40%). Despite these challenges, 78% believe they could learn green skills if offered training.

Developing green skills is crucial for all generations to achieve climate goals. The demand for green talent is high, but supply is limited. Only 1 in 8 workers globally have the necessary green skills. Less than 1 in 5 Gen Z workers have a good awareness of career paths in green jobs. Sixty-five per cent of Gen Z are driven by a desire to protect the environment, with 46% believing green jobs offer good career opportunities and 43% finding them fulfilling. However, only 41% believe they have the relevant qualifications.

Empowering Gen Z for Green Jobs

Gen Z views green jobs as a key part of their future but needs more support and training to succeed. Seventy-eight per cent of Gen Z are confident they could learn green skills with training. Currently, only 41% have access to green skills training programs, which drops to 25% in the US. Yet, 60% are interested in such programs (44% in the US). Four out of five professionals who transition into green jobs have some prior green experience, highlighting the need for better green talent development.

Addressing the green skills gap requires a coordinated approach involving policymakers, educators, employers, and the workforce.

Accelerate Climate Talent Development

Accelerating the development of climate talent, especially among Gen Z, who will comprise a third of the workforce by 2030, must be prioritised. This includes incorporating climate-related components into formal education, providing on-the-job training and just-in-time learning programs, building sustainability education into employer learning programs, and supporting initiatives like Work On Climate, Terra.Do, and Climate Drift.

Clarify Labour Market Signals

Helping young workers understand how their climate education connects to employer needs is crucial. Many roles, such as architects and city planners, play vital roles in achieving climate goals. Organisations should clearly signal their environmental commitments to attract and retain talent.

Utilise Skills-Based Approaches in Hiring and Talent Development

Employers should adopt a skills-based approach to hiring and talent development. They should consider broader requirements for open roles and build tailored upskilling and reskilling programs.