A Green Era for Jobs and Skills in Europe and APAC

Published on Sep 28, 2023

Written by Mariana Marques

The European Commission aims to make Europe the first carbon-neutral region in the world. To achieve this, the plan is to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. This goal, supported by a set of policies famously known as the EU Green Deal, is behind many of the changes we see in the labour market today. 

Shifting to a fully green economy isn’t just the right thing to do for our planet’s health. It also offers many opportunities for growth and innovation across all sectors, from sustainable transport to renewable energy and eco-homes. Every industry will become eco-friendlier, and emerging green industries will continue to expand. 

It’s clear by now that sustainability efforts across the world affect our workforce significantly - and will continue to do so in the long term. But how exactly is the workforce shifting to accommodate more green innovation than ever? What is required of workers today, and how are jobs changing to reflect this greener approach? 

The demand for green jobs 

We looked into our Lightcast Skills Taxonomy to define green job postings and identified over 250 green skills within the “environment” category. We then organised them into 13 clusters - critical environmental and sustainability areas - and matched them with related green skills. For instance, the “clean energy” cluster contains skills such as alternative energy and renewable fuels. 

In Europe, all five countries studied (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK) significantly grew their share of green job postings between 2019 and 2021. Italy takes the lead as the country with the highest percentage of green job postings (1.72%), while the UK is bottom-of-the-list, with its green job postings accounting for 1.29% of all job postings online. 

However, Italy isn’t alone at the top. It’s closely followed by France and Spain, with 1.67% of green job postings. Germany takes fourth place with 1.54%. Regarding growth trends over the last three years, France has had the most considerable increase in green job postings - an impressive jump of 55%.

This trend goes beyond Europe too. In Australia and New Zealand, for instance, in the first half of 2023, 2.56% of job postings required skills related to the environment (air quality, conservation, ecology, emissions management, and environmental geology). Some of the top green jobs in these countries include Project Administrator, Environment Consultant, and Environmental Research Analyst. 

Green skills categories across countries

The growth we see in green job postings across Europe aligns with the policies and goals the European Commission has set. But what exact green jobs are employers in these countries looking for?

Environment and climate change is almost all countries' largest green skill category. Looking into Germany, for instance, there is a good balance in demand for environment and climate change and energy management, followed by the slightly less requested waste management and clean energy skills. Conversely, France has the highest share of job postings for waste management and clean energy. This reflects France’s hegemonic nuclear power, with nuclear energy producing about 70% of its electricity

Within the broader green categories, “energy transformation” is the most in-demand green skill in the German market, present in a noteworthy 20.93% of green job postings. With energy supply being the second most popular skill, we can see that the German government places a strong emphasis on energy management as part of its green plans. So much so that in the first quarter of 2023, renewable energy covered half of all energy consumption in Germany. 

If we look into specific industries rather than green categories, water supply and electricity generation are the top two sectors with the highest share of green jobs across all European countries studied. This share is exceptionally high in Italy, where 78% of all green jobs in the water supply industry are related to green skills.

However, not just green jobs request green skills. As every organisation strives to implement more eco-friendly processes and invest in greener technologies, we see green skills being requested across every industry, from construction to professional scientific and technical activities such as consulting and manufacturing. 

What skills do green jobs request?

When it comes to green jobs, other skills come into play aside from specific green skills. For instance, sustainability and digitalisation go hand in hand, so digital-focused jobs require digital skills too. And what about specialised and common skills? Let’s look into the requirements for green jobs across some European countries. 

Common skills are mostly the same across all five European countries studied, with management being on the top 5 list across the board and skills like planning and innovation being particularly popular. Looking into digital, some of the most in-demand include automation, informatics, and AutoCAD. Lastly, regarding specialised skills, construction, and electricity are two of the most sought-after across all countries. 

In Australia and New Zealand, some of the top green skills requested in green postings include environmental management, present in 13.1% of these postings, environmental science (12.9%) and renewable energy (11.8%). Similar to Europe, the most sought-after common skills for green roles are communication and planning. 

Despite several similarities in digital, common and specialised skills requested, it’s worth looking into each country more closely to understand national green trends. Diving into Germany, Brandenburg has the highest concentration of green job postings, accounting for 2.3% of all job postings in this area. It is followed by Sachsen-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein, all driven by manufacturing and engineering jobs.  

And what are the top green occupations in Europe?

Across most countries studied (France, Germany, Italy, and the UK), “engineering professionals” had the largest share of green job postings in 2022. This occupation includes job titles such as nuclear safety engineers, waste management engineers, project engineers, and energy managers, so it covers various fields. France and Italy had a staggering 7% and 8% of green job postings, respectively. 

In Spain, the occupation with the largest share of green postings in 2022 was industrial and production engineers, with over 5% of green postings. Other popular green occupations in Europe include IT roles such as systems analysts, research and development managers, and engineering technicians. 

Get granular European data

Europe is getting greener by the minute, and looking at its environmental policies and goals, the labour market will continue to get greener, too, for years to come. Every business, organisation, and educational institution benefits from understanding the latest green workforce trends and planning ahead - enabling more internal innovation and ensuring they support their wider regional and national green economy. If you want to explore green labour market trends in your region or country, Lightcast has the granular data you need.

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