The world around us changes all the time; the only thing that is constant is change.
Old things and old ways die out from disuse or undergo major changes, while new, previously unknown or little-known sciences and occupations emerge as a corollary of technical progress. However, the questions naturally arise not only which jobs will survive, and what jobs will emerge, but also how these jobs will relate to the environment. Human impact on the environment has never been greater than in the last hundred years. If we want later generations to have a future, the economy must show responsibility in the context of its effects on the environment.
According to a forecast published by Adecco at the end of last year, approximately 18 million new green jobs – including futuristic-sounding occupations like water footprint managers, in-vitro meat scientists and traceability managers – could be created in the next decade.
Adecco’s study entitled ‘Inovantage. Sustainable Workforce: Driving Eco-friendly Growth’ evaluates and gives an overview of labour market, economic and educational trends, their links and relations, as well as their impacts on companies and society, particularly in relation to central and eastern European countries. We thought that the issue – i.e. how the labour market will be reshaped and become greener in the next decade – merits further consideration.
It does seem likely that we have entered a new era due to the current social and economic transformation, which can also be seen from the fact that Greta Thunberg, aged just 17, was chosen as Time magazine’s 2019 person of the year. As an increasing number of people have in recent years drawn attention to the fact that the world we live in is no longer able to provide us with limitless resources, thus, in order to ensure that future generation(s) will have access to these resources, it is crucial to live sustainably, which requires effective measures and systemic changes. It should be noted that those born between 1980 and 2000 will represent 75 percent of the working population by 2025. However, working for a good cause and eco-responsibility have real incentive effect on most of this generation, while most of the older generation are motivated by perks, position and prestige. 61 percent of the younger generation stated that they would be more committed to and prefer to remain loyal to companies with a sustainability programme in place. What is more, they would be willing to give up 15 percent of their salaries at green companies. However, according to several other surveys, nearly half of the generation born between 1994 and 2004 claimed that they would work in professions that did not exist yet, and only one fifth of them believed to be able to make their careers future-proof. Three fourths of the respondents felt insufficiently informed about the jobs of the future. At the same time, 70 percent of the young generation said that they wanted to know more about skills most needed for the next decades in order to be better informed when taking decisions on future trainings and their careers.
It is probably not too risky to conclude that the members of the new generation will have new types of jobs, as stated in the Inovantage Report entitled ‘Sustainable Workforce: Driving Eco-friendly Growth’. The total share of green jobs in the economy was only 0.7 percent in 2017, but a real boom is likely just around the corner. The highest increase in the number of green jobs is expected to occur in areas related to the use of solar energy, biomass and wind energy. The current green employment level is the highest in the public sector in the European Union, which is already 27.8 percent, followed by the waste management sector with 12.1 percent, the transport sector with 10.9 percent, and the energy sector with 7.1 percent. A great leap forward is expected by 2030; in addition to the public sector, other sectors will assume greater importance in this regard, and the projected green employment level of the waste management sector will rise to 25.7, the energy sector’s to 18.9, and the transport sector’s to 17.7 percent. Globally, 7-8 million more jobs will be created in the circular economy by 2030. Overall, approximately 78 million new jobs will be created, while 71 million jobs will disappear. A vast majority of those working in disappearing jobs will be absorbed by the same or other sectors, which may require them to be retrained.
According to the report, one of the top green jobs of the future will be the profession of green engineers, whose duties will include advice relating to the effective use of household appliances and the measurement of electricity consumption of households. Another emerging job will, probably, be water footprint managers, whose tasks will include the calculation of the water use of firms and the development of more efficient solutions for the production of goods or services in terms of water use. Virtual health support workers will enable patients to self-track their health using digital technology, thereby make fewer trips to hospitals and recover faster; thus, the burden on the health care system could also be reduced. There will be a high demand for retail energy specialists, who will provide information to customers on the energy and water use of household appliances. There will also be a demand for living roof and wall gardeners, whose main task will be the maintenance of these urban spaces created for the purposes of reducing air pollution, blending buildings into their surroundings, and improving biodiversity. Green call centre advisers will provide information and advice by telephone on the sustainable use of household appliances to save time, energy and water. Smart travel co-ordinators will plan and optimise journeys and help people avoid traffic jams to reduce journey times and congestion. Traceability managers will also be needed, as there is a growing demand from consumers to be aware of the production conditions of purchased products and the veracity of the labelling. The profession of green car mechanics could also be in-demand, as, already today, mechanics need to have new skills necessary for repairing and servicing hybrid and electric cars. Landfill miners will be needed for the processing of valuable materials in old landfill sites to meet increasing demand for raw materials. It could be worth the effort becoming an in-vitro meat scientist, as the advantage of cultured meat created out of stem cells is that its production process generates less greenhouse gas than the traditional meat production method, scientists therefore hope that it can make a great contribution to make the environment healthier, cleaner and greener.
Although the view outlined above sets out an optimistic and positive vision in certain respects, it is important to keep in mind that there are countries whose economies will not be adaptive to this extent and that changes could seriously affect their already too unstable fundamentals. The transition to green growth entails a greater responsibility and commitment for stronger economies to prevent weaker economies from lagging further behind. Since effects of labour market transitions of today, and of tomorrow even more so, are and will no longer be solely local. As walls cannot keep out overall environmental impacts, solutions for these issues and challenges can only be achieved with shared responsibility and commitment.