As green jobs boom, market remains skills-deficient – Moneycontrol

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As the world becomes more climate-conscious and adopts sustainable living and environment-friendly technologies, it gets translated into economic activities as well. For instance, aircraft are being designed to reduce their carbon footprint.
Similarly, last year Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani set a 1-1-1 target for making one kilogram of green hydrogen available for $1 within one decade.
Such goals have led to the emergence of green skills, the demand for which is increasing, and experts say this will only be amplified. As per a LinkedIn report, the share of green talent in the global workforce increased from 9.6 percent in 2015 to 13.3 percent in 2021 with a cumulative growth rate of 38 percent.
What are green skills and green jobs?
Largely, green skills contribute to reducing pollution or enabling environmentally friendly activities, explains Sumit Kumar, chief business officer, TeamLease Education Foundation.
“These skills are required to use certain technology to reduce carbon emissions,” he says. For instance, with regard to an organisation or a company, one has to examine the products they are manufacturing to reduce carbon emissions and be more eco-friendly. The roles where certain green skills are required become green jobs.
Job portal Indeed’s data reveals that ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) jobs have grown over 468 percent in India in the past three years. Companies have now started looking at specific qualifications in candidates for such roles.
“This includes degrees in fields like energy, environmental science, sustainable business management, environmental studies, etc,” says Saumitra Chand, career expert at Indeed India.
annual growth 0609_001
The rise in ESG-related job posts shows that the notion of letting values govern a business has been gaining traction over the past 10 years, but truly took off during the pandemic, he adds.
Which sectors are leading the way?
The APAC ESG Paper 2022 by management consultancy Russell Reynolds Associates (RRA) shows that India’s next-gen leaders are particularly well positioned to ascend to the C-suite in the next 5-10 years with significant sustainability expertise: 70 percent of them have taken on three or more sustainability-related job responsibilities, compared to only 40 percent of global next-gen.
“In industries like financial services, leaders from business roles are being put into sustainability roles. IndusInd Bank and HDFC are examples of this,” the RRA paper by consultants Harpuneet Singh and Khushboo Kumra says.
However, 40 percent of institutional investors in Asia have held back on ESG-based investing due to a shortage of expertise or qualified staff.
In other industries, however, such as consumer goods, where several global players are already ahead on the sustainability curve, RRA has observed external talent being pulled into organisations to bring in a fresh perspective.
annual growth 0609_002
TeamLease saw an uptick in sustainability leaders in the auto (20 percent) and power (15 percent) sectors in the last six months but the construction segment lagged.
“This is because the sector is highly unorganised and the primary roles demanding green skills are limited like architectural design, waste management, water treatment and renewable energy,” Kumar says.
Kumar feels the overall demand may go beyond 10 times what is needed at the moment. “It is a matter of another two to three years before the demand will double or even triple,” he adds.
How is the supply side?
It is a mix of both where organisations are relying on external markets to hire freshers with those skill sets and also upskilling employees to cater to the demand since the talent for green skills is not available in abundance, TeamLease observed. The staffing firm can fulfil at best 40-50 percent of the demand from the apprenticeship standpoint.
“There is no reported figure for green skills in India, but it is quite low as the need arose two to three years back, since the government is working towards a green economy,” Kumar says.
Concerning pay packages, he says the annual salary could be Rs 3 lakh per annum at the entry level and Rs 4 lakh per annum for skilled people.
Some of the most popular job roles in the environmental sector are as ecologists, biochemists, meteorologists or geologists, according to Akhil Gupta, CEO of job platform Shine.
While all these segments—environmental, social, and economical renewable energy, waste management, green transport and urban farming—have great potential to employ a trained workforce, he agrees not every aspirant comes with strong subject knowledge.
“The numbers are abysmal at the moment but they will definitely grow in the near future,” says Kumar of TeamLease. “In addition, many academic institutions have now introduced courses.”
For every 100 entrepreneurs, LinkedIn said only two are highly skilled in green tech but adds, “With the help of top business schools preparing MBAs in sustainability careers, green Indian founders are increasingly combining tech and business skills—which represent 42 percent and 14 percent of the most representative skills amongst this talent, respectively.”
Need a multifaceted approach to bridge the gap
The World Economic Forum suggests that 50 million jobs can be created with a projected contribution of $15 trillion through India’s transition to a net zero economy.
Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has taken forward the initiative for green skill development in the environment and forest sector to enable India’s youth to get gainful employment.
In its report, LinkedIn concedes that there is no simple “one-size-fits-all solution” to attracting and creating green skills as a discrete entity.
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