Updated: Aug 4, 2022
This week’s theme at Futuretivity is the Sustainability Skills Gap. Every day we have spoken with friends and colleagues looking to transition into Sustainability roles, companies grappling with building Sustainability expertise for their business, and industry bodies planning sector-specific Sustainability training. It’s clear that our economy is transitioning towards a greener future and there is an urgent need for skills, training and capabilities to support this.
A 2022 survey by UN-backed SME Climate Hub cited 63% of small businesses delaying climate action because they lack the skills in-house to deliver net zero. Yet the skills gap conversations we are having are also with large organisations struggling to scale up the internal expertise and resource to support newly prioritised climate action, social impact and Sustainability innovation.
OECD analysis of the Labour Market Implications of Addressing Climate Change identifies that many new jobs will be created, some jobs will innevitably become obsolete, but that “the vast majority of existing jobs will simply be transformed and redefined as day to day skillsets, work methods, and profiles are greened.”
But what is the Sustainability skills gap and why is it important right now? This is how Futuretivity defines it:
The Sustainability skills gap is the shortage of knowledge, training and skills to enable our labour force to deliver the necessary transformation to a low carbon, socially equitable and commercially resilient green economy.
The Sustainability skills gap is the key challenge to enable our labour market to adapt and for our economy to develop resilience in the face of an obsolete industrial economic model.
The sustainability sector is set to create millions of sector-specific jobs by 2050, broadly the target for net zero, in addition to requiring new skills, innovation and fresh approaches in existing roles as we adapt to climate change, levelling up, new regulation and ESG targets.
The education sector is beginning to address this, adapting not only to a changing economy but increased demand from students. By 2025, every student at Sheffield University in the UK will have compulsory Sustainability education. Sustainability manager James Merryclough is clear, “This is responding to what students want and this generation is looking for. We know employers will want these skills too.”
The challenge, however, is making these sure necessary skills are available now as organisations and workers plan and deploy Sustainability strategies for future challenges and to grasp opportunities emerging in a new economy. But how do you identify what those skills are and how to incorporate into your business fast?
Partner with Sustainability delivery specialists - look to collaborate with experts with an over-arching understanding of how Sustainability impacts your business. Not only will this help you get started as you scope and roadmap your route to climate positivity, but also show you how to access the $12tr Sustainability market.
Tap into Industry Resources - industry bodies and trade associations are increasingly offering sector-specific Sustainability training and access to specialist partners. Identifying and working with industry specialists can filter what's right for your business to deliver effective Sustainability action quickly.
Looking Within as You Plan Ahead - it sounds counter-intuitive, but scoping and planning for a Sustainable future often reveals hidden Sustainability capabilities and knowledge within the organisation now that, with a little support from specialist partners and industry resources, can start your business on its route to Sustainability.
At Futuretivity we are working closely with our industry partners to deliver insight, knowledge and tools for businesses to develop and integrate 360˚ Sustainability into their organisation’s leadership, operations and culture.
This autumn we will be hosting workshops and masterclasses alongside our programmes delivering effective Sustainability action for business – to find out more, get in touch at email@example.com