Solar panel installer, eco-designer, circular economy expert or environmental engineer. These are some of the ‘new’ green jobs that appear on job portals or social networking sites. “We have been talking about this for quite some time,” explains Rosario Sierra, director of corporate business for LinkedIn Spain and Portugal.
A discussion that comes from afar. “In the 90s, environmental management in Spain was the junk and garbage dumps of a lifetime,” says Javier Blasco, director of the Adecco Group Institute. A concept that has evolved over the years and has been placed at the center of the debate. “A sustainable economy can no longer externalize environmental and social costs”, highlighted the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 2008.
“Nature and employment are intrinsically related,” they added.
The climate emergency and responsibility towards the environment are two issues that are increasingly present on business agendas. In addition, the arrival of the Next Generation Funds from the European Union “represents an excellent opportunity to overcome the challenges of the crisis caused by COVID-19 and to promote a fair transition towards a low-carbon and circular economy, integrating biodiversity in management and business processes and making more efficient use of natural resources”, says María Peñahora García, counselor of the ILO office for Spain.
But where are the green jobs? In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the entire world, sustainability job postings on LinkedIn increased by 49%, although “green employment is still in an early development phase,” Sierra reveals.
By definition, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), green jobs are those “jobs in agriculture, manufacturing, research and development, administration and service activities that contribute substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality” . But, “the idea is that it should be decent. Not only must it fight against climate change, but it must also respect the rights of workers and ensure them an adequate salary,” Peñahora points out.
At the COP 25 that was held in Madrid in 2019, the director general of the ILO, Guy Ryder, estimated that new jobs in the green economy could reach 30 million in 2030, and above all, the UN projections defend this. who calculate the jobs that the change in the economic model would bring in 65 million. In Spain, the figure, according to the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) 2021-2030, points to an increase in employment between 242,000 and 348,000 people per year (an increase of 1.7% in employment in 2030) .
The branches of activity that would generate the most employment would be commerce and repair (52,700 jobs), manufacturing industry (50,200 jobs) and construction (41,700 jobs). The electricity sector would have a net creation of employment (4,100 jobs), including the loss of employment associated with the reduction of activity in coal and nuclear plants.
Missing technical profiles
The World Economic Forum points to several key sectors for the growth of greener jobs. From sustainable agriculture and fishing to clothing recycling and not forgetting the production of renewable energy. “One of the most demanded profiles on our platform is the person responsible for sustainability,” says the director of corporate business for LinkedIn Spain and Portugal.
However, “the transition to a greener economy requires new skills for the new jobs that arise and to adapt those that already exist,” says Peñahora. “We are aware that supply has increased, but there is a demand deficit,” warns Javier Blasco.
Catalonia, Andalusia and the Community of Madrid are the regions with the highest number of green jobs, according to the report ‘Green Jobs in a sustainable economy’ by the Biodiversity Foundation.
“Deficiencies and shortages of skilled workers are beginning to be recognized as a major bottleneck in a number of sectors such as renewable energy, energy and resource efficiency, building renovation, construction, environmental services and manufacturing,” says the Minister of the ILO office for Spain. «In Spain, there is a great lack of technical profiles, especially in the University», adds Blasco.
New professions, new skills, but nevertheless, the salaries do not vary with the usual jobs. “I don’t think they pay for the green surname,” Sierra points out. “It can be a higher salary,” counters the director of the Adecco Group Institute, but “because they are more technical profiles.”
Green jobs most in demand
- Environmental engineer. He advises governments and private companies on the best ways to minimize the environmental impact of their projects.
- Environmental lawyer. He advises his clients on issues related to air and water quality or waste.
- Director of sustainability. Person responsible for the environmental policies of a company.
- Constructor of sustainable buildings. An open job for engineers, architects, designers and other professionals linked to the sustainable construction of buildings.
- Urban farmer. Utilize or create green space on vacant lots, backyards, or building rooftops.