Net zero workforce to create 300 million jobs

Companies shifting towards renewable energy sources will create a green collar workforce, predicted by Deloitte to create more than 300 million new jobs by 2050.

Green collar workers, according to Deloitte's Low-emission Workforce report, are an emerging category of the workforce whose work or skills are affected by decarbonisation.

Extra jobs are to be created by companies in their their active transition to renewable energy sources, as they work to toward the goal of attaining net zero carbon emissions by 2050 first set by the United Nations in 2018. 

An estimated 21 million more jobs will be created in Europe, 26 million in the Americas, 75 million in Africa and 180 million in Asia Pacific.

ESG initiatives in the workforce:

FTSE 100 net zero goal to become vital to talent attraction

ESG values a deciding factor for job candidates

Too many businesses still hiding behind green PR

To meet the demand, it said businesses will need to focus on upskilling workers, rather than completely retraining them, as an estimated 80% of the skills needed for a new green collar workforce already exist today.

Steve Hatfield, global future of work leader at Deloitte, identified the sectors that would be most acutely affected by the move away from fossil fuels.

He told HR magazine: "Our analysis found that some occupations, like those in construction or farming, would significantly transform because emissions-intensive activities, assets, and processes will need to be replaced by low-emissions alternatives. Others would only slightly change, such as electricians or engineers. We also expect to see new industries and roles emerging, revolving around technologies like green hydrogen.

"The culmination of these impacts will require the public and private sectors to partner on adapting our educational and skills development system—from schooling to ongoing training and reshaping career pathways. Only by everyone taking an active role in the transition can we ensure that no worker is left behind."

Research from law firm Boodle Hatfield showed since the COP26 climate summit in November 2021, 82 out of the UK’s 100 largest companies have pledged to reduce their emissions to net zero by 2050. COP27 is scheduled to take place on 6 November 2022.

Sophie Lambin, CEO and Founder of Kite Insights and The Climate School, said workers themselves have the most important role in making a net zero workforce.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: "The most important skill workers will need in the green economy is the conviction that they are central to the transformation of their companies.

"The majority of work that needs to happen will be outside the boardroom and in the hands of employees who need a mandate to problem solve and innovate. That means companies need to first develop and communicate their net zero transition plans.

"Leaders need to inspire their employees with a vision of what their business could look like by 2050, and how that will impact the bottom line. But, it’s critical that workers are given the knowledge, motivation and tools to play an active part.

"In my view, employee-led climate action will be the best indicator of long-term success. The green transformation is not a compliance exercise but a new invitation to employees to help shape the future."

A report from UN Climate Change published last week (26 October) found countries were bending the curve of global greenhouse gas emissions downward.

However this was not enough to keep global temperatures below the Paris Agreement goal of a 1.5 degrees celsius rise by the end of the century.