COP28: ‘Green ceiling’ adding to skills shortage in jobs addressing climate crisis

A green skills shortage is threatening climate goals
A green skills shortage is threatening climate goals Copyright Canva
By Luke Hurst
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New data shows while there are more green jobs than ever, the industry faces a severe skills shortage.


The world is working towards the Paris Climate Agreement’s overarching goal of keeping global temperature rise this century to below 2 C above pre-industrial levels - and to do this, it requires a transformation of the workforce.

Ahead of the meeting of world leaders at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai later this week, new data reveals how there has been a promising uptick in hiring for green jobs.

In fact, across much of Europe, the data shows that “green hiring” is outpacing general hiring.

Providing insights into the growth of green jobs in its COP28 Global Climate Talent Stocktake report, professional networking platform LinkedIn warns that while there is a promising rise in demand for green expertise, there is a “significant sustainable skills shortage” putting this progress at risk.

“The data paints a worrying picture; we need to go much further and faster to meet the climate challenge and critically, we need to make sure the transition is equitable and no one is left behind,” said Sue Duke, LinkedIn’s head of global public policy.

With access to insights and data from a billion users of its platform, LinkedIn revealed that globally just one in eight employees has one or more green skills, with only one in nine in the European Union.

Green skills, according to the platform, refer to competency with ecosystem management, environmental policy, environmental auditing, energy management, sustainability research, and more.

The report states the share of people with green skills is growing by around 8.5 per cent a year, but that’s not enough to fulfil demand.

“As climate leaders gather in Dubai for the COP28 stocktake, the data shows there is a sustainable skills shortage in every country and every industry around the world,” said Allen Blue, co-founder and vice president of product management at LinkedIn.

“While companies are hiring for green roles there simply aren't enough people with the skills needed to meet our climate needs”.

The data also shows how hard it is for people to break into green careers, with 80 per cent of those who do successfully transition to a green job found to already have some previous green experience or skills.

‘Green ceiling’ intensifying the challenge

Sue Duke also highlighted a so-called “green ceiling” that is emerging, with data showing women are underrepresented in both green jobs and green skills.

“We must help level the playing field for women, and to do that we need to break down the barriers that weigh heavier on women transitioning into their first green role. The challenge intensifies as the underrepresentation of women in leadership is more pronounced in green industries than across the global economy,” she said.

The gender gap in green skills and green leadership is stark. The data shows 90 per cent of women lack a single green skill or green work experience, while 16 per cent of men have at least one green skill.

Women were found to be joining the green talent pool at a higher rate than men over the past two years, but this is still too slow to close the gender gap in this space.

The gap is considerable in leadership positions too, with women making up only 20 per cent of VP roles and 21 per cent of C-suite roles in green industries.

In comparison, across the global economy women make up 27 per cent of VP roles and 25 per cent of C-suite.

“If we’re to meet climate targets this will take a whole-economy effort, and we simply can’t do that until we urgently address the ‘green ceiling,’” added Duke.

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