The green transition is here — are you prepared?

Workplace trends can be a wait-and-see game — sometimes they pan out, and sometimes they don’t. The green transition is the real deal. It’s government-backed and has consequences for almost every industry, both in operations and output. We’ve put together some of the biggest questions about the green transition and its impact on the business world so you can prepare for what’s to come. 

What is the green transition? 

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report highlighting strategies to combat climate change at the end of February. The metric that governments and businesses are focusing on is the need to limit the planet’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. The green transition includes the steps to achieve these goals, such as achieving net-zero emissions, improving sustainability practices, making a clean energy transition, and implementing green technologies.

A field with windmills and a sunset in the background

Transitioning to clean technologies will require workers to learn new skills.

Countries are transitioning to net-zero economies, with RBC predicting that 15% of the Canadian workforce will face disruptions over the next ten years. The federal government announced efforts to cut emissions by 40% by 2030 by creating incentives for companies adopting green technologies. More workers will be needed to develop, implement, and maintain green technologies so companies can stay competitive. Job descriptions for workers in non-manufacturing and -trades sectors will also change. 

Which industries will be affected? 

The sectors that will see the most significant changes are: 

  • Natural resources and agriculture 
  • Manufacturing and utilities 
  • Management 
  • Business, finance, and administration 
  • Natural and applied sciences 
  • Trades, transport, and equipment 
  • Education, law, and social services 
  • Sales and service 

These changes include increased demand for existing roles, such as electricians and other trades, to upgrade and maintain green technologies. They will also rely on new skills from existing jobs, such as city planners and architects focusing on flood- and fire-resistant infrastructure. According to the report, 25% to 30% of skills in some existing jobs are already changing. Green job duties are creeping into the job descriptions of the above sectors on an industry-wide level, with responsibilities shifting even more for those at green companies. 

What’s a green-collar worker? 

Green-collar workers focus on increasing sustainability and decreasing factors like pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste that contribute to climate change. By 2030, there will be 40 million green-collar workers in renewable energy and energy systems efficiency in the United States. 

Green-collar workers can be defined by their job tasks (e.g., environmental lawyer, solar panel installer, and environmental engineer) or their workplace (e.g., public transit workers and waste management employees). Workplaces actively shifting to green technologies or otherwise curbing their contributions to climate change are referred to as green companies.

A man welding metal

Trades such as welding face increased demand as greener materials are used in green technologies. 

How are businesses responding? 

Alongside economic and diversity goals, companies are also implementing climate action plans to align with the 1.5-degree temperature threshold. In some cases, upgrading or replacing infrastructure and technology requires hiring skilled workers. Industries like oil and gas must retrain workers to pivot to other sectors like mining, costing over $150,000 per worker. 

What can I do to survive these changes? 

The most significant way the green transition affects the workforce is in terms of skills. Retraining and upskilling can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and existing credentials may soon become obsolete. 

Instead of looking at education level and certifications during the employee selection process, evaluate candidates on their behaviors. Technical skills change, but a candidate who can innovate, adapt, and displays good problem-solving skills is more likely to succeed in the workplace regardless of collar color. Knockri’s employee assessment tests assess candidates’ behaviors objectively and don’t rely on historical data, so you can hire confidently even when the job landscape changes. Book a demo to chat with our HR Solutions Consultant about making your hiring process green.