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Skills crisis is becoming Green Transition’s biggest obstacle: Just 3 percent of companies in world’s top business hubs have the skills needed

by | Feb 6, 2024 | Public Relations

For brands and businesses to effectively tackle the planet’s climate crisis—or even make a difference—setting carbon-neutral and sustainability goals is just the tip of the iceberg. These initiatives can only be moved forward by highly-skilled individuals—and those skills are few and far between at almost every company in the world’s busiest business hubs, reveals new research from The Economist Group’s think tank Economist Impact.

According to the group’s new report, A Green Edge: Green Skills for the Future, sponsored by Kyocera Document Solutions, only a paltry 2.7 percent of the 300 senior business executives surveyed in Berlin, London, New York, Singapore, Sydney, and Tokyo—six of the world’s biggest business hubs—believe that their organizations have the green skills needed to meet their corporate climate goals.

Skills crisis is becoming Green Transition’s biggest obstacle

Despite this, the report finds that nearly all (95.7 percent) of those surveyed expect green skills to become significantly more important for businesses to have in their workforces in the next five years—more so than digital, analytical, management and soft skills.

Executives said the leading benefit of increasing green skills in their workforces is improved brand reputation (86 percent), followed by resilience against extreme weather events (81.7 percent), and greater ability to achieve sustainability goals (77 percent).

Skills crisis is becoming Green Transition’s biggest obstacle

Government regulations and policies were revealed as the leading influence for companies to adopt more green skills in their workforces, stated by the majority (80 percent) of the executives surveyed.

However the research reveals a disconnect between executives’ intentions and action

Executives see the importance of green skills but say the level of financial investment required is the top reason holding them back. Lack of endorsement from senior leadership and lack of clarity over what constitutes green skills ranked as the second and third biggest obstacles. 

“Cities are both laboratories of innovation and essential forces in the green transition. In partnerships with companies, they can make sure the green-skills revolution has the wind at its back”, said Andrew Staples, editorial director of Impact Initiatives & Alliances and head of policy & insights (Asia) at Economist Impact, in a news release. “We are still in the early laps of this race. Although the pace is likely to pick up, concerns remain that this may not happen quickly enough to forestall the worst consequences.”

Skills crisis is becoming Green Transition’s biggest obstacle

Research finds that if the lack of green skill development is not addressed, the delivery of corporate net zero targets will falter. A critical shortage of workers in the green economy may rise to seven million by 2030. In Europe alone, achieving the continent’s net zero commitments by 2050 will require the retraining of 18 million people.

Given that smaller companies may have fewer resources, they are placing less emphasis on green skills than their larger counterparts. Nearly a quarter (22.9 percent) of executives from organizations with less than 250 employees say they do not incentivise their employees to adopt or develop green skills. Comparably, in companies with over a workforce of over 25,000 people, this figure drops to zero.

Skills crisis is becoming Green Transition’s biggest obstacle

Download an executive summary here.

The report accompanies a barometer that assesses the environment for green-skills development and adoption in six cities—Berlin, London, New York, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo—via a survey of 300 executives. Expert interviews and an extensive literature review supplemented the survey findings. The purpose of the barometer is to study the green-skills ecosystem in the six cities of focus. It allows us to explore the drivers behind green-skills adoption as well as analyze businesses’ readiness and efforts to adopt green skills.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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