Zimmerman: Want a recession-resistant job? Go green
San Jose's solar project in Kern County. Photo courtesy of San Jose Clean Energy.

    The Inflation Reduction Act is expected to create over half-a-million new jobs in the renewable energy sector.

    In a recent interview with LinkedIn’s Head of Sustainability Peggy Brannigan, she notes that green skills are a great way to secure an in-demand, well-paying position in today’s job market. Brannigan has a lot of evidence back this up. LinkedIn has 850 million profiles and is one of the most looked-to sites for job postings. The company has used its unprecedented access to track important global economic trends and to create the Global Green Skills Report 2022. If you haven’t read this report, you should.

    Demand for green workers outpaces supply

    LinkedIn defines a green skill as one that enables the environmental sustainability of economic activities. Green jobs are jobs which cannot be performed without green skills.

    According to LinkedIn’s report, the share of workers with at least one green skill, known as “green talent,” has grown 38.5% worldwide from 9.6% in 2015 to 13.3% in 2021. Despite this, there is still a skills gap between the number of workers with green skills (6%) and the demand for these workers (8%).

    Starting in 2019, green worker hiring rates surpassed that of non- green workers. These rates actually increased during the pandemic, which suggests green talent has been relatively more resilient to an economic downturn than non-green talent, the report said. Per the World Economic Forum, employers are looking more for green skills than degrees, partly due to the high demand and relatively low supply of talent.

    According to Brannigan, 12% of LinkedIn members qualify as green talent. Workers with green skills are more sought after and have more connections through which to find work. These members have, on average, 1.6 times the connections of other members. Increased demand for green skills conceivably translates into better pay and increased job security for workers with the right skill set. Things actually are greener on the other side.

    Every job is (or can be) a green job

    The opportunity for green work is much bigger than green job titles. There is a clear shift across all industries toward green skills as both companies and countries pledge to become more sustainable. This transition is part of the larger “great reshuffle” as workers are leaving their jobs and seeking out new opportunities, and companies adopt new approaches and seek new markets.

    According to recent research, the majority of “greening” in jobs is found in industries traditionally not considered green. For instance, the apparel industry is increasingly seeking people familiar with sustainable fashion and pollution reduction, while the financial industry is drawn toward workers with knowledge of how climate change will impact financial markets and commodities. The top three greening jobs are compliance manager, facilities manager and technical sales representative.

    Automotive manufacturers are also part of this transition. Ford has announced 17,000 new production jobs in electric vehicle factories. Toyota, Honda and General Motors recently announced new jobs at factories producing EV batteries.

    Green skills are valuable currency in the current job market

    The United States leads the world in green and greening jobs.  According to LinkedIn’s report, “In the last five years, the number of Renewables & Environment jobs in the U.S has increased by 237% in stark contrast to the 19% increase for Oil & Gas jobs. At this pace, we are predicting that the Renewables & Environment sector will outnumber Oil & Gas in total jobs on our platform by 2023.” Understandable, given that the use of renewable energy has doubled since 2007.

    Now is an excellent time to either seek out a green position, re-skill for a new position or up-skill in your current role. This trend isn’t just for younger generations or for individuals with bachelor’s degrees—the greening trend extends across all demographics and age ranges. And with the massive investment in renewables, clean tech and other environmentally-focused jobs by the Inflation Reduction Act, the outlook for green jobs and skills is only going to get better.

    San José Spotlight columnist Erin Zimmerman is a climate reality leader with the Climate Reality Project’s Silicon Valley chapter. Erin, a long-time environmental and political activist, holds a PhD in political science. Her column appears every third Wednesday of the month. Contact Erin at [email protected].

    Comment Policy (updated 11/1/2021): We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, hate speech, excess profanity or make verifiably false statements. Comments are moderated and approved by administrators.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.