From employee wellbeing, to new jobs created by the growing need to protect the environment, sustainability is shaping the job market, and is set to accelerate after the pandemic.

Over recent years, the importance of sustainability has grown, becoming a very real concern for many economies, industries and our everyday lives. But what does sustainability really mean? There’s no doubt that it’s about protecting the environment; reducing CO2 emissions, recycling, living ‘greener’ lives and trying to stop the rate of climate change. But that’s not all. A growing number of companies have begun to promote sustainability in their business, introducing so-called ESG policies; encompassing environmental, social and governance criteria. The importance of these policies have been central to many finance functions for some time, but today we see HR and the labour market in general placing a greater importance on them too. In this sense, sustainability means so much more. It means promoting employee wellbeing and a healthy work-life balance, investing in developing skills and thereby improving employability, encouraging innovation and implementing digital transformation, boosting employee engagement, fighting illegal employment practices and promoting equality.

While each element is important, to date, only protecting the environment has had a clear and measurable impact on employment in the world’s largest markets; giving rise to ‘green jobs’.

Indeed, the employment rate for ‘green jobs’ is growing globally. According to our analysis, Germany has 2.8 million ‘green workers’, which is growing at a CAGR of 1.59%, while Italy has about 3.1 million with a growing CAGR of 3.4%. Obviously there are clear differences between countries and as a global recruiter we see this. In particular, data suggests that countries with fewer ‘green jobs’ may actually have a higher growth rate than others with a higher number. This can be seen in the UK, which currently reports 85,000 ‘green jobs’, but has a growth rate of 11.64%. In fact this could further accelerate with the Government’s pledge to invest £4bn to create 250,000 new ‘green jobs’. By comparison, Spain has 531,000 ‘green jobs’ and a growth rate of 5.85%.
Another country that has started to make strides in the field of sustainability is Brazil. Forecasts suggest that the first Latin economy, where the growth rate of sustainable jobs is 6.4%, is at the beginning of a new form of production that will lead the country towards an increasingly greener economy.
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As we previously mentioned, we have already registered an increase in the demand for green jobs in the markets in which we operate, but the skills demanded vary greatly depending on composition of each economy:
  • Mechatronics and industrial mechanics. The demand for these two professions are prevalent in those markets and countries where efforts to obtain more sustainable fabrics are greatest. For example, Germany, especially in its cutting-edge automotive sector, and Italy, with its world world-class manufacturing industry.
  • New generation of installers, for example, new air conditioning or clean energy storage systems that reduce CO2 emissions. The demand for these types of professionals is growing globally, especially in urban areas like Paris, Madrid and Barcelona.
  • Specialized manual workers, such as electricians and builders, who are experts in new eco-friendly materials and technologies. They are highly sought after in countries where real estate has always played a crucial role, such as in Italy (12.5% of the GDP against 10% of the EU average GDP – OECD data), but also in Brazil, China, Poland and many other emerging markets, which are quickly having to become more familiar with ‘greener’  building regulations and standards.
  • Another example is IT: our lives will increasingly depend on  technological infrastructures, especially after the current pandemic. Therefore, a growing demand for all kind of technicians is expected: experts in main operating systems, hardware technicians, product specialists, as well as other support roles including cable repairers. Demand for this kind of professional is already growing in many parts of the world, with the number of workers who need to be connected’ to carry out their work.

In addition, the current climate has forced everyone, all over the globe, to rapidly change their behaviours and habits, accelerating trends such as remote working. Many experts predict that these changes, initially out of necessity, will become permanent, further impacting ‘green’ or sustainable jobs. This can be seen in e-Commerce, where the forecasted growth has jumped from 4.4% to 18.4%, which in turn will result in an increase in demand for ‘greener’ transport solutions; further driving the demand for new ‘green’ skills.

“The overall summary presented through this study is clearly positive as it represents new job opportunities for workers and candidates in several countries. However, access to these jobs for many will not be straightforward due to different skills-sets needed. At Gi Group, we have to help to reduce this gap by upskilling and reskilling candidates and boosting their overall employability. This becomes even more important today given the unprecedented situation we are facing. It means making sustainability in the labour market our top priority” – concludes Paulo Canoa, CEO Gi Group UK&Ireland