It is abundantly clear that many traditional practices and attitudes surrounding production and consumption are environmentally unsustainable. Jobs that have long directly or indirectly caused the degradation and depletion of the Earth’s resources need to shift to zero-carbon practices, and new jobs must be developed that protect our planet. Creating a green economy built on green jobs is urgent and necessary–but how much closer are we to achieving these goals?
What makes a job green?
The green transition is a global requirement—but what exactly makes a job green? Does it mean working directly in the environment sector, or simply not working for organizations that cause direct harm to the planet? Assessing our progress in the green transition at work requires a clear definition.
Since it was first published in 2010, the standard definition frequently used in reports studying the green economy comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which states that green jobs are either: (a) Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources; or (b) Jobs in which workers' duties involve making their establishment's production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.
The most in-demand green jobs in 2021 included environmental specialist, civil engineer, forester, environmental technician, solar photovoltaic installer, and arborist. But now, “greenness” in work exists somewhat on a spectrum. As awareness of the urgency of climate change increases, more sectors are shifting to low-carbon practices and models, making space for a broader definition of “green” jobs.
However, we must focus on more than job titles when considering how green a job is. Developing green skills that can be applied to jobs that may not be directly considered green is also crucial. According to one study, over the last five years there has been double-digit growth across dozens of green skills, the fastest growing being ecosystem management, environmental policy, and pollution prevention.
How green are we becoming at work?
The pandemic changed across the board how we work and where we work, and brought new urgency to the climate crisis, because many of the root causes of climate change also increase our likelihood of creating pandemics. The lessons we learned and the new ways of thinking we adopted are evident in the way we are prioritizing the green transition in work.
Here are the latest data in green job growth, between Q1 2020 to Q3 2021, according to Skills Predict by the Adecco Group. The growth is measured by the number of green jobs posted online.