What Skills do Youth Need for Green Jobs of the Future?

Photo-illustration: Unsplash (Brooke Cagle)

In the next decade, millions of new “green” jobs will be created in new-wave industries, like solar energy, and established fields, like architecture, fashion and farming.

For young people, these jobs will represent an opportunity to earn a steady living while helping to tackle some of the planet’s biggest challenges, from climate change to pollution to species loss.

But what skills will young people need to land these planet-friendly jobs?

Systems thinking skills

The green economy will require analytical thinkers to see patterns and identify innovative ways to improve sustainability, whether in textile production, food distribution or infrastructure development.

Systems thinkers will be important to businesses wanting to increase efficiency, strengthen organizational structures and improve the relationships between various divisions. Employers will value those who can help monitor social and environmental impacts. Systems thinkers are well-suited to roles that emphasize analytics, logistics and engineering.

Science skills

The green economy will require environmental scientists, materials scientists, hydrologists, biochemists, biologists and experts in other scientific disciplines. They’ll be charged with tackling challenges such as ecosystem management, weather forecasting, contagious disease outbreaks and carbon capture storage.

Urban planning and architectural skills

The shift to a green economy will require major changes in how we plan our cities, design transport systems, manage waste, and construct buildings and other infrastructure. New environmental regulations will increase demand for designers, architects, engineers, and planners to translate those rules for their clients.

There will be a growing demand for innovative designs that maximize efficiency and minimize the environmental footprint of buildings and other infrastructure, like roads and bridges. Workers skilled in sustainable design will also be required in the fields of waste management and civil engineering.

Green engineering & tech skills

As demand grows for more efficient and renewable energy sources, skilled workers who can design, install and maintain solar panels, wind turbines, waste management systems and environmental monitoring devices will be in high demand. The rise in electric and other low-emissions vehicles will also create jobs for engineers. Designers who can create products that result in little or no new waste will also find eager clients.

Agricultural skills

The green economy will require people skilled in conservation agriculture, climate-smart agriculture, organic farming, precision agriculture and urban farming. People with skills in sustainable land use planning will also be in demand.

Creative skills

The green economy will require creators, designers, musicians, filmmakers, photographers, dancers, actors and other artists who can inspire and challenge people everywhere to live more sustainably.

Source: UNEP