Upskilling with green….

We get job applications in all shades of green – from career green professionals to mid-career folks seeking a change to those starting their careers on the green curve. Using ‘green’ as a proxy for environment and sustainability, we tried to look at green skills in a structured manner as an option for upskilling.
The demand for green skills is unlikely to slow down, notwithstanding anti-ESG movement in parts of the US and political roadblocks to sustainability related investments in EU and UK. From our experience of building the team at Envint and working with clients around the world, green skills can be classified across three broad areas:

1. Technical skills: These are hard-nosed engineering, scientific or other domain specific skills relate to sustainable development including energy, water / wastewater, materials, solid waste, etc. Some more specialized disciplines include climate modeling, biodiversity, fire safety, assessments, occupational health and social aspects like gender or labour relations. These specialized skills are very much needed for the ‘wicked’ climate change problem, and more the applied experience, the better! These skills are best picked up at the early stages of one’s career, although some adjacencies can be found for upskilling.

2. Intersection skills: There are many interesting areas where core functional skills of law, marketing, finance or digital intersect with sustainability. Environmental law, sustainability communication or sustainable finance are all specialized areas where one can build on a core functional expertise and apply the same for sustainability. These are useful for mid-career professionals who wish to acquire green skills. For me personally, my first exposure to green happened a decade after I started working – in wastewater treatment at GE. My professional peers in sustainability / ESG today include accountants, architects and journalists – those who made mid-career shifts. There are many specialized programs that help transition to a career in sustainability on the back of a core functional skill.

3. Strategic skills: More managerial in nature, these skills help in advancing the green agenda in organizations. There is currently a leadership vacuum and also confusion on whose desk in an organization the sustainability buck needs to stop. A few skills from (1) or (2) would be pre-requisites at this level, to be able to effectively lead cross-functional teams and demonstrate progress on sustainability. There are ample opportunities available as the CSO role continues to evolve and mature.

As in many other domains, a combination of 2-3 skills above help in solving real-life sustainability problems faced by corporates, investors and govts. There are many options available for us to upskill on green – those that lend to real-world applications would probably be the best to pick and run with!

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