Demand for green skills grows as companies focus on sustainability goals

The demand for green skills is outpacing talent supply as companies try to recruit qualified workers who can help them achieve ambitious sustainability goals, according to a new ManpowerGroup report.

In a sign of unprecedented demand, 70% of employers said they’re urgently recruiting or planning to recruit green talent, particularly those with sustainability skills in renewable energy, manufacturing, operations and IT.

“As companies accelerate their sustainability efforts, it’s critical we bring people along on the journey,” Riccardo Barberis, president of ManpowerGroup Northern Europe Region, said in a statement.

“Investments in green technology will only get us halfway if employers fail to properly skill and reskill workers to operate in a greener future,” he said. “Prioritizing workforce development must be a core pillar of net-zero strategies.”

Based on surveys of nearly 39,000 employers and more than 5,000 workers worldwide, the report noted a widening skills gap, climate urgency and several roadblocks slowing progress.

For instance, despite demand for sustainability skills, only 1 in 8 workers have more than one green skill. As companies compete for skilled workers, the talent shortage will grow wider, according to the report.

Some industries have higher demands for green talent than others. The industries with the highest intentions to hire talent to meet sustainability goals included energy and utilities (81%), IT (77%), financials and real estate (75%), industrials and materials (74%), and transport, logistics and automotive (73%).

Talent leaders noted several barriers to their green transitions, such as finding qualified candidates (44%), creating effective reskilling programs (39%) and identifying transferable skills (36%). 

Sustainability skills could become the next frontier in talent battles this year, sparking demand for training and professional development. Most workers have noted there’s little investment in sustainability training, according to a Salesforce report, and most employers can’t find the talent to meet their goals.

To draw the right workers, some sustainability-focused technology businesses are promoting fulfillment and purpose as part of their recruitment process, which is appealing for younger workers who seek meaning in their work. Growth and innovation principles attract workers as well, especially when companies offer training and upskilling opportunities.