Simply put, green skills are the knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society.
The need to transition towards more environmentally sustainable modes of production and consumption has become imperative, for developed as well as for developing countries.
The transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy requires systemic changes that will result not only in new products and services but also in changes in production processes and business models.
This greening of the economy will inevitably change the skills required and the tasks involved in many of the existing occupations.
There are three main ways in which the transition to a green economy affects needed skills:
The Green General Skill index identifies four groups of work tasks that are especially important for green occupations:
In addition to these skills, a range of soft skills are also considered to be increasingly important, not only for green skills, but generally for “skills of the future”, including also those necessary for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In particular, skills related to design thinking, creativity, adaptability, resilience, and even empathy, are regarded as critical.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is promoting industrial skills development in developing and emerging economies, and can play a critical role in catalyzing the transition to a green economy.
UNIDO’s Learning and Knowledge Development Facility (LKDF) is based on Public Private Development Partnerships (PPDP) in which public and private sectors make a joint investment in a project implemented by a third party. The LKDF has implemented a variety of PPDPs across countries and sectors to establish and upgrade local industrial training institutions.
One example is the H2O Maghreb project, implemented by UNIDO and supported by the Government of Morocco, FESTO Didactic SE, EON Reality, the Moroccan National Office for Drinking Water and Electricity, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
With the aim of improving water management practices in Morocco, the project has established a high-level training hub to provide market-oriented training in wastewater treatment and water management, and has developed curricula for existing water professionals that combines different professions and specializations related to water and wastewater for municipal and industrial applications.
In October 2020, more than 400 people, 45 speakers, and representatives of ten partners took part in the LKDF Forum 2020, three days of interactive sessions deliberating on “green skills for a sustainable future” and the start of what the World Economic Forum calls a “reskilling revolution”.
One of the key messages coming out of the discussions was that education is an investment and not a cost. As the development of green technologies moves ahead at pace, reskilling and upskilling current and future workers to fulfill the requirements of the green transition is a strategic move not to be missed.
This article was previously published on the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) website.