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What Are Green Skills and Why Do We Need Them

What Are Green Skills and Why Do We Need Them

Have you ever heard the term green skills? If not, don’t worry, as you will have the chance to find out in this article. What you should at least know at this point is that green skills have to do with sustainability.

We are witnesses to climate change unfolding every year and wreaking havoc on societies worldwide. Houses are swept away by rivers, crops are destroyed, and people lose what they have worked hard for years. But as climate change threatens our own survival, we can’t stay idle and do nothing.

It is imperative to shift to a more sustainable living to slow down climate change or, even better, reverse it. That’s the reason why Europe is investing a lot of money into European research to create sustainable solutions for anything. In this sustainable craze, green skills will play a vital role in understanding sustainability and, if able, contributing to making a greener future.

What do we mean by green skills, and how can they help up going forward? These are some of the questions we’ll try to answer in this article.

Let’s find out.

What Are Green Skills?

We’ll need green skills to adapt products, services and processes to climate change and the related environmental requirements and regulations. According to Cedefop, green skills are “the knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society”. One thing is certain, though. Green skills will be absolutely necessary for the future across sectors and for many positions in the workforce.

How Is The Demand For Green Skills Determined?

The transition to a lower carbon economy will only be successful if workers adapt to this new environment. This means that they will have to update their skills and qualifications to those in demand in a greener economy.

The demand for green skills is determined by several factors like public policy and targets. However, the main trends that seem to determine them are the following:

  1. The greening of the economy across sectors requires skills upgrades and revision of qualification requirements.
  2. The new economic activities create green jobs or alter existing ones requiring additional qualifications and skills.
  3. Our shift to more sustainable models causes structural changes making sectors decline and others emerge, making it necessary to retrain workers accordingly.

Why are Green Skills Important?

First of all, a lower carbon economy is a must as climate change continues unabated worldwide, causing severe economic and social concerns. However, as it is obvious, such a transition needs time and can’t happen overnight as it requires investments, infrastructure, skills, etc. That’s why the EU has set climate targets, one for 2030 and another one for 2050, which is the deadline to realize the European Green Deal.

Source: UNEP

In the initial modellings by UNEP for the transition to a green economy, there were two scenarios with different levels of investments over time. In both scenarios, GDP was higher, and employment stayed relatively neutral. But to at least be neutral, teaching the required green skills will be necessary. Without them, the greening of the economy will lead to extensive job losses due to skills mismatch, and there will not be enough workforce to support a lower carbon economy.

A later study by Cedefop in 2013 confirmed that it is possible to simultaneously have a sustainable and energy-efficient economy and employment growth in the EU.


The availability or not of green skills in the workforce will determine the success of our sustainability efforts in greening the economy. But it is more than that.

A lower carbon economy will create new occupations and change existing ones and their required qualifications. If the workforce is not properly trained and lacks the necessary skills to support a sustainable economy, then the green transition will be slower and will have a negative impact on society as there will be structural unemployment. Education will play a vital role in upskilling workers and preparing them for the future.

Understanding those needs, GreenVETnet, which is an Erasmus+ project, focuses on supporting the European Green Deal and reflecting the importance of skills, knowledge, and attitudes on environmental change and sustainable development as enables the green transition in the European Union (EU) and beyond.

Further, the project will work on mainstreaming the integration of sustainability aspects in VET by enhancing the competencies needed for sustainable development. To reach these goals and better equip European VET to educate the new generation of sustainable future agents, GreenVETnet plans various activities.

Stay tuned for more updates on GreenVETnet and news about sustainable development.

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