The world is at a tipping point on climate change, with related events affecting more than 1 in 4 organizations globally, according to the Deloitte Global 2021 Climate Check report. The public sector, consumer, and life sciences/healthcare industries are the most worried about business impacts, with more than 80% of their executives voicing apprehension about the planet’s future.
“If we don’t act, we are at increased risk of an alarming intensification and uptick in these climate-related disasters, which will likely affect almost every part of life as we know it,” says Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte Global. “The business community must match the ambition of world governments by cutting emissions across their own operations.”
Green job growth is happening everywhere.
Efforts to stop the acceleration of climate change and clean up the environment have created a booming sustainability sector, the green economy, and it is fueling revenue and jobs worldwide. Clean energy – hydroelectric, solar, and wind energy – are aimed at eliminating dependence on fossil fuels, and in the United States, these jobs are growing much faster than the average job.
- Clean energy remains the biggest job creator across the U.S. energy sector, employing nearly three times as many workers (3,048,603) as those who work in fossil fuel extraction and generation.
- The number of jobs in the renewables sector in 2020 reached 11.5 million globally, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) annual report.
- By 2035, solar energy has the potential to power 40% of U.S. electricity, deeply decarbonize the energy grid, and employ up to 1.5 million people – without raising electricity prices,
- Global investment in energy decarbonization hit a record $501.3 billion in 2020, a 9% increase over 2019 ($458.6 billion) and a 113% increase over 2010 ($235.4 billion). The largest sector in 2020 was renewable energy, at $303.5 billion. Jobs making the biggest difference are those in renewable energy, electric transport, energy efficiency, and nature conservation.
What jobs are increasingly important?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth is expected in a range of climate-related occupations by 2029:
A closer look at the fastest-growing occupations
In April 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor shared the fastest-growing, green-related occupations that are discussed in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. The nine projected to have among the most openings in the coming decade include:
- Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health.
- Chemists specializing in green chemistry design environmentally sustainable processes to minimize toxins and waste. They also monitor environmental conditions at chemical plants.
- Hazardous materials removal workers clean up materials that are harmful to people and the environment.
- Environmental science and protection technicians monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution and contamination, including those affecting public health.
- Environmental engineers use the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems.
- Geoscientists in the green economy work in environmental protection and preservation to clean up and reclaim land. Some specialize in certain aspects of earth, such as its oceans.
- Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical and physical principles of living things and biological processes, such as cell development, growth, heredity, and disease. In agriculture, they genetically engineer crops resistant to drought, disease, and insects. They investigate alternative fuels, such as biofuels (renewable energy sources from plants), and develop ways to protect the environment and clean up pollution.
- Solar photovoltaic installers, also known as PV installers, assemble, set up, and maintain rooftop and other systems that convert sunlight into energy.
- Conservation scientists manage, improve, and protect natural resources, working with private landowners and federal, state, and local governments to find ways to use and improve the land while safeguarding the environment.
The National Registry of Environmental Professionals (NREP) shared 13 specific green jobs of the future, careers in demand, and the fastest-growing green jobs.
- Air Quality Engineers focus on maintaining clear indoor air quality or remediating contaminated sites and ensuring that businesses comply with governmental regulations.
- Chief Sustainability Officers (CSO) make sure organization practices are economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable.
- Conservation Scientists (discussed above).
- Environmental Consultants identify water, air, and/or land contamination; advise on waste-management policies, conduct audits, manage regulatory concerns, collect and interpret data, assist in implementing green building practices, provide guidance on human health and safety, manage sustainability initiatives, and identify sources of contamination.
- Environmental Project Managers lead private companies to implement environmental goals, such as achieving objectives, engaging relevant third parties, acquiring key personnel, and using data to create reports for decision-makers.
- Agriculture and Food Scientists examine every area of food production, from field to factory. As defined by the S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, they tend to work as animal scientists, food scientists and technologists, plant scientists, and soil scientists.
- Forest and Conservation Technicians work almost exclusively with forests and other natural resources that impact them. They assist foresters and scientists in protecting the animal and plant life in forests and participate in forest nursery or logging operations. They also collect data to help monitor management and conservation efforts.
- Geoscientists (discussed above).
- Hydrologists study the way water moves throughout the environment, determine its current cleanliness and risks that may lead to pollution, and provide action plans.
- Renewable Energy and Sustainability Consultants help clients or employers understand energy requirements and how they can add renewable energy sources into their power mix (lowering carbon footprints).
- Soil and Plant Scientists focus on managing crops, deterring pests, studying soil characteristics and composition, and ensuring cultivation practices don’t harm the environment.
- Natural Resources Specialists monitor various environmental resources, examine environmental impacts, and make recommendations for restoring ailing areas.
Other common and growing job titles include environmental lawyer, sustainability or environmental manager and director, urban planner, preservation planner, transportation specialist, procurement officer, policy analyst, business analyst, engineering geologist, supply chain manager, health and safety specialist, compliance specialist, environmental economist, field and lab technician, and natural resource technician.
Clean energy workers now account for 19% of all construction jobs, more than 5% of jobs in wholesale trade, and more than 4% of all manufacturing jobs. Green home construction workers are retrofitting existing structures to make them more energy-efficient and sustainable and ensuring developments meet more stringent low carbon standards.
Will this green workforce soon reach critical mass?
Businesses, private markets, and capital markets have passed the point of no return regarding environmental, social, and governance (ESG) adoption. Harvard Law School’s Forum on Corporate Governance says the crisis is pushing companies and investors to develop and improve approaches in relation to ESG risks, and that those slow to evolve will face tougher conversations with shareholders and other key stakeholders – including the workforce.
In fact, the workforce is quickly transitioning into young, climate-focused professionals. By 2025, Gen-Z workers will comprise 27% of the global workforce. Their number one concern? The environment. Climate change is also a top concern among Millennials, who will represent 75% of the global workforce by 2025,
Their futures look promising. At the heart of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan are major investments, new policies, and climate legislation that, if implemented, hold significant job-creating potential. Jobs are projected to grow in renewable energy, energy efficiency, weatherization programs, modernizing the U.S. power grid and storage, producing electric vehicles, and increasing charging stations – and there is a big focus on workforce training.
The future is promising for green companies, too. The New Climate Economy, a global commission on the economy and climate, said that in combination with action from governments and other stakeholders, businesses that take action on climate change by adopting green policies, technologies, and strategies for growth could see $26 trillion in economic benefits.
You will need an evergreen pipeline to the right talent.
It is human nature and that of business to continually find better ways of doing things. We are all advancement seekers, and today, out of necessity, we are more focused than ever on the interconnected relationships between people and the environment.
At Goodwin Recruiting, we are focused on connecting employers with top talent. When your organization needs professionals with the proper education, skills, and certifications to help you fulfill your sustainability goals, let us help. If you are an experienced professional looking for environmentally conscious hiring companies, or if you are pivoting traditional skills into a rewarding green career, we are in a position to help you find the best opportunities.