3 ways to close the green skills gap in your organisation

5 min read | Paul Gosling | Article | Corporate social responsibility | Sustainability

skills gap

Almost every sustainability employer (97%) has experienced a shortage of key skills in the last year, according to our latest Salary & Recruiting Trends guide.

As more organisations recognise the importance of embedding environmental practices into their business, the demand for green skills is growing at a faster rate than these skills can be developed, leading to the creation of a ‘green skills gap’. In fact, a 2022 LinkedIn report shows job postings mentioning green skills have increased by 8% over the past five years, while the pool of green talent has grown by only 6% over the same period.

Green skills are the attributes, knowledge, and abilities needed to develop and support a sustainable society. The Green General Skills index identifies four groups of key skills that are important for jobs within the green economy: engineering and technical skills, science skills, operation management skills, and monitoring skills. According to our salary guide, a third of employers predict the demand for green skills and sustainability specialists will increase over the next 12 months.

So how can organisations ensure they attract and retain the sustainability talent needed to close the growing green skills gap?

1. Invest in training and upskilling your employees

80% of 2030’s workforce is already in employment, according to research from Deloitte, so it makes sense to look inward and focus on developing green skills among your current employees. Investing in training programmes is a must if you want to take the lead in the sustainability space, whether it’s funding formal sustainability training courses through professional bodies like IEMA or encouraging attendance at relevant industry events.

Offering opportunities for upskilling will also attract new talent to your organisation, with our salary guide showing that 51% of professionals would consider reskilling into a sustainability role. Tapping into the sustainability interests of individuals, from whatever career background, will expose your organisation to whole new skill sets. For example, professionals from finance or project management backgrounds will have the transferable skills needed for corporate sustainability and environmental management roles. Meanwhile, mechanical and electrical engineers could bring their industry experience and skills to a role in sustainable buildings and energy management.

81% of organisations would consider hiring someone who doesn’t possess all the skills needed for a sustainability role (salary guide) – so don’t let your organisation be the one to miss out on the benefits of upskilling professionals.

2. Solidify and communicate your environmental purpose

If you want to close the green skills gap and make your organisation a destination of choice for sustainability professionals, then you need to ensure sustainability is embedded into your wider purpose. It’s also important to make sure sustainability commitments are authentic to your brand and backed up with action, to avoid claims of greenwashing. Being a member of a professional body like IEMA can signal to an external audience that you prioritise sustainability and positive change as an organisation, rather than seeing it as a tick box exercise to keep up appearances.

An organisation’s commitment to sustainability is an important consideration for 78% of employees when applying for a new role (salary guide).

3. Attract diverse talent

Diverse talent can bring new perspective and skills to an organisation, which often results in teams devising more creative solutions to complex sustainability issues. Hiring diverse talent not only helps to close green skills gaps, but promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) is also a key differentiator for many job seekers.

In fact, 70% of employees say that an organisation’s ability to demonstrate a diverse and inclusive culture would influence their decision to apply for a new role (salary guide).

Reviewing your DE&I policies is essential to ensure you’re attracting a wide range of professionals from different backgrounds. Offering hybrid or flexible working options can encourage applicants from a broader range of backgrounds, including those with disabilities, informal carers, and mature workers.

If you want to find professionals that will close the green skills gap in your organisation, register a job with us today. We’re ready to solve your talent management challenges and provide your organisation with the top sustainability talent you need.

About this author

Paul Gosling, National Director for Sustainability Recruitment, Hays

Paul has been a specialist recruiter in environment and sustainability for over 25 years. He started recruiting into the sector in 1995 after finishing his BSc in Environmental Science and he’s worked with thousands of individuals and hundreds of companies over the past 20-plus years to support their growth and development in this dynamic and critically important sector.

During this time, Paul has built a wealth of knowledge and he’s recognised as a leading expert on overcoming the unique recruitment challenges facing the environment and sustainability sector.

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