Skilled workforce for a green future

Green jobs offer a promising pathway for a country with a large and young population, high unemployment rates, and environmental challenges.
Last Updated : 17 October 2023, 00:24 IST

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Naresh Tyagi

Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on World Environment Day, said that the country’s focus is now on “green growth” and “green jobs.” According to reports from development organisations, these two alien-sounding phrases are the harbinger of the sustainable development of the earth and mankind. This sounds great, but the basic question arises: What’s a green job?

A green job can be defined as a job within sectors of the economy that produce goods and services aimed at environmental protection or the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources.

Green jobs encompass a wide range of sectors known as “green businesses.” These include renewable energy, energy storage, green construction, green transportation, carbon sinks, solid waste management, water management, and e-waste management.

The impact of green jobs extends across India, addressing various aspects of sustainability. Green businesses encompass activities related to renewable electricity and fuels, management of municipal and farm waste, urban and rural water management, green construction, green transport, and the creation of carbon sinks.

A job creator sector

The International Labour Organisation estimates India’s shift to a green economy to add 3 million jobs in the renewable energy sector alone by 2030. In 2017, this sector created 47,000 new jobs in India, employing 4,32,000 people, as reported by IndiaSpend in July 2018. Notably, the number of jobs in India’s green energy sector, excluding large hydropower projects, increased by 12% within a year. India played a substantial role in global green job creation, accounting for approximately 20% of the new green jobs established worldwide in 2017.

According to the Skills Council of Green Jobs, a substantial 65 million jobs will need to be generated by 2030. A majority of these potential jobs, around 30%, are expected to be in waste management and water management. Green construction is projected to make up 17% of the total job forecast, while green transport is estimated at approximately 12%. The remaining 11% of the job forecast will be divided between renewable energy and carbon sinks.

This highlights the importance of embracing a comprehensive approach to the green economy, with the circular economy serving as a foundational principle to guide us in achieving these ambitious employment goals.

Green jobs offer a promising pathway for a country with a large and young population, high unemployment rates, and environmental challenges.

Skilling for green opportunity

The Skills Council of Green Jobs anticipates that 65 million jobs will be created by 2030. The largest potential for these jobs lies in waste and water management, each accounting for 30% of the total forecast. Green Construction constitutes 17%. In comparison, Green transport is expected to contribute around 12%. Renewable energy and the creation of carbon sinks make up the remaining 11%. A holistic approach to the green economy, rooted in the principles of the circular economy, is essential to meet these employment targets.

Addressing the demand for green skills in various sectors during the transition to a more sustainable economy is paramount for achieving net-zero goals. While the need for green jobs is rising, the ecosystem providing the necessary skills is still in its early stages.

Despite numerous training institutes offering courses, there’s a lack of focus on green skills. Prioritising the reskilling and upskilling of the existing workforce and training newcomers is crucial. Supporting entrepreneurial models, fostering diversity and inclusion, and ensuring the creation of decent jobs are also vital considerations.

Four key strategies

To transition the workforce into green jobs effectively, four key strategies can be employed:

Revamping the education system for green skills: Introduce courses on green technologies and sustainability and weave green skills into existing curricula.

Collaboration with industry and corporations: Partner with the corporate world to design and impart green skills training programs, ensuring alignment with the evolving job market’s needs.

Financial incentives for employers: Encourage businesses to hire skilled youth in the green sector by providing them with financial benefits, such as tax reliefs or subsidies.

Promoting green careers through public awareness campaigns: By spotlighting the potential of green jobs and careers, industries can inspire youngsters to consider and pursue them.

Besides, to effectively bridge this gap, philanthropic investments should raise awareness of green skills in schools, aligning with the National Education Policy 2020. Initiatives like the Green Jobs and Sustainability Accelerator programme must be encouraged and implemented at the school level along with government measures, such as the National Credit Framework, that aims to enhance educational opportunities with quality skills for better employability, significantly impacting green skill development and job prospects.

Before implementing large-scale initiatives, it’s essential to pilot solutions, develop resources that aid decision-making, and promote collective action. These steps ensure that skill-building efforts meet the evolving needs of the workforce in a demand-driven manner, facilitating a successful transition to a green economy.

(The author is the chief sustainability officer of a textile brand)

Published 17 October 2023, 00:24 IST

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