Understanding and Adapting to the Emerging Green Economy

Published on Mar 28, 2023

Written by Mariana Marques

No matter where you look, all roads lead to net zero. Each country has clearly defined goals to achieving net zero emissions, and this impacts the labour market tremendously. As a reflection of governmental plans to be more eco-friendly, new green jobs are emerging, and green sectors are soaring. Making sense of these changes and adapting to them is the challenging part. 

Lightcast recently hosted a webinar on “Understanding the Emerging Green Economy,” in partnership with Data City and WPI Economics. In this webinar, we discussed the role that net zero is taking in shaping the economy and the labour market, and the challenges and opportunities organisations should be aware of. This article compiles some of the key takeaways from the webinar, giving you a quick overview of the state of the green economy and how our data can help you reap its benefits. 

The path to net zero 

Combating climate change is at the top of the agenda for countries and companies across the globe. The UK government launched its “Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener” in 2021, aiming to reach the net zero target by 2050. But what exactly does this target encompass, and what needs to be done? A key part of this long-term vision is to build a green economy, and ensure that each sector is reducing its GHG emissions and pollution, being energy and resource-efficient and, overall, contributing to a healthier ecosystem. 

Why is the green economy important?

The term “green economy” can be broken down into a series of missions across sectors, from efficient heating in buildings to low-carbon transport and waste management. It is crucial to achieving net zero and meeting environmental goals, as sectors need to come together and deliver on these targets.

While climate change is a strong enough reason to make the move to a green economy, it’s not just about protecting the environment and building a healthier, safer future for the next generations. A green economy brings numerous benefits for businesses and sectors to prosper. 

There is now an opportunity to build green competitive industries that can not only generate more jobs and boost employment rates, but also create higher skilled and higher paid roles to build prosperity. It will improve the everyday lives of citizens too, by enabling more efficient and cheaper heat and transport, lower bills, and overall, improved wellbeing. 

The challenges of adapting to a green economy 

We are already seeing a staggering boost in green jobs and green skills being required by companies, so the race to net zero is well underway. But to really understand what the green economy encompasses, and how businesses can become greener, a global vision isn’t enough. Green economies vary widely depending on the area or sector, so their progress is different. Plus, without a clear definition of green jobs and skills, you are blindly navigating untapped territory. 

How do you find out the progress of green sectors and companies?

The “green economy” is a fairly new concept that is not present in official industry classifications. In the UK, Standard industrial classification of economic activities (SIC codes) don’t include businesses that are engaged in providing green services or products. Because of this, over 1,300 green companies select “Other business service activities n.e.c”, making them challenging to find. 

There are also terminology complications that make it difficult to track which businesses are actually green, and which ones aren’t. For example, companies engaged in advanced textile manufacturing for wind farm turbines would be seen as “textile manufacturers” through the SIC codes - which doesn’t correspond to the reality. Even if all green businesses get a new SIC code in a few years, the green economy will look very different and the classifications won’t be accurate anymore. 

And what exactly does “green” mean?

If this wasn’t enough confusion for you - we have more. There is no official definition of green, making it challenging to find green jobs, skills, companies and industries, and to track their progress. You'll find green jobs in ungreen sectors and vice versa. The green economy is growing at a speedy rate so we can’t rely on structural data using traditional standard classifications and expect to find an accurate representation of the green economy. 

Yet, from a hiring and upskilling perspective, you need a clear view of how your sector is progressing, how you compare to other businesses in the region or nationally, the types of green skills you may need and how to hire or upskill for those. If you are a governmental organisation supporting net zero efforts, you need to make sure that you’re providing the right guidance to businesses. 

This is crucial not just for business leaders and talent organisations, but for education and training providers too, who need to understand what employers are looking for and how to teach the relevant green skills to their students. The faster the green economy is growing, the more pressing it is to equip students with the right skills that will get them into stable and successful green careers. 

Using Lightcast data to understand the green economy 

Lightcast’s job postings data can provide you with almost real-time insights into how employers are describing jobs, the skills associated with those jobs and, generally, the rate of change in recruitment activity for green jobs. 

Lightcast identified a list of job titles connected to green subjects such as environmental conservation, energy efficiency, recycling, renewable energy, and solar power sustainability, and looked at the green skills that were coming up frequently within the job postings associated with those job titles. 

This enabled us to develop a long list of green skills, a more refined list of job titles, and to track these over time. You can see growth of green jobs not just within green businesses and sectors, but all across the labour market, regionally and nationally. Plus, you can also track all the other specialised skills and salary trends associated with green jobs.

Building your green economy strategy with Lightcast, Data City and WPI Economics 

Lightcast has partnered with Data City and WPI Economics to deliver a full package of detailed data and insights on the green economy. Data City works with sector experts to identify main areas of innovation and build taxonomies for the verticals that comprise the net zero economy. Its machine learning classifier gives you an accurate and detailed picture of all the green companies trading in the UK. 

By combining this with Lightcast’s job postings and skills data, you can isolate not just green job taxonomies but also job postings from companies that are exclusively green. This allows you to locate them geographically and support the companies you need in your local supply chain with the relevant skills and strategies. 

Together with WPI Economics, we provide not only the quantitative data, but the qualitative data that will help you build strategies for the present and future. This includes access to economic principles, detailed policies, other industry-leading reports, interviews with key green economy stakeholders and workshops to flesh out recommendations to take your green economy plan forward. Visit our page to find out more or reach out to us below.