More youth seek out “green” jobs

Photo by Michael Burrows

Three out of four young people in Asia Pacific aspire to get a green job within the next decade, outpacing youth elsewhere in the world in gravitating towards careers – and organisations – that have an environmentally sustainable agenda, according to Youthquake Meets Green Economy, a new research report by Accenture.

In a landmark study of 29,500 youth aged between 15 and 39, in 18 countries, 77 percent of respondents in Asia Pacific said they aspire to work in the green economy in the next decade; a little more than half (54%) even think they will accomplish that goal within five years.

“There is every indication that the region’s youth are especially enthusiastic about making a positive environmental impact and working for organisations that demonstrate a real commitment to sustainability. The challenge is now for companies to move quickly enough to appeal to this talent and design jobs that allow youth to make a lasting difference,” says Gianfranco Casati, CEO for Growth Markets at Accenture.

According to Accenture’s modelling of job creation, it is estimated that the number of green jobs in Australia, China, India, Indonesia and Japan could grow by 62%, reaching 32.6 million, by 2030.

More than 12 million jobs are expected to be in the area of transportation, and almost 10 million more jobs will come from increasing the supply of low-carbon electricity, especially in the form of renewable energy.

“Many companies have started by making public commitments to sustainability. Now they have to execute by prioritizing green economy activities: the kind that has a primary purpose of protecting or restoring the environment while creating new employment opportunities,” Mr Casati added.

As the demand and supply of green jobs continue to grow, companies need to be aware of three imperatives:

Flip the script — for your future’s sake

Discerning and critical, young people are highly sensitive to superficial attempts at “greenwashing”. Conversely, companies that demonstrate a genuine commitment to a green-economy transition can have a strong appeal for young people.

Two suggestions: First, create new green businesses that are decoupled from legacy businesses, and second, build internal capabilities for sustainability across all business divisions, which could include introducing and tracking new sustainability KPIs.

Deliberately design “green collar” jobs to spark innovation

Today’s sustainability challenges demand fresh, hybrid solutions. Companies need to bring in a mosaic of talent profiles into new types of teams to build these solutions faster. Expertise will be required in unusual combinations such as chemical engineering-plus-innovation and climate science-plus-AI.

Simply building this talent pool won’t suffice—the most innovative companies will go one step further by offering them the creative freedom to bring their ideas to life with the latest instruments such as advanced data platforms, analytical tools and new technologies.

Make everyone part of the green transition 

Not all green jobs require advanced degrees – a large portion of green skills will be needed in entry-level roles and require vocational qualifications. Based on our research, youth in the region are eager to receive the specialised training these jobs require. For companies, this creates unique opportunities to invest in upskilling or reskilling these aspiring young workers.

Companies that rise to the challenge of meeting these imperatives will not only create the jobs that young people aspire to, but also secure their own place in the green economy.