Transferable skills are crucial for businesses and the climate

Preparing young people for the jobs of the future requires companies to rethink attitudes to employment, says PageGroup’s head of sustainability Joanna Bonnett

Man in hard hat standing by a windmill

In 2018, 60% of employment was in jobs that didn’t exist in 1940. We are about to embark on a similar shift, reinforced by businesses predicting that 44% of workers’ core skills will change within the next five years.

According to the World Economic Forum, the top skills for 2023 include: working with others, management skills, technology skills, self-efficacy, and cognitive skills. This reads like a wish list for any job description, whether it’s an engineer, accountant or project manager. I recently attended LinkedIn’s annual Talent Connect Summit in New York. Clear messaging from LinkedIn’s CEO Ryan Roslansky to global talent acquisition leaders was to embrace the skills-first agenda.

The skills-first agenda

A skills-first agenda emphasises a person’s skills and competencies over education, employment history and job titles. It allows employers a flexible way of looking at someone’s potential and the ability to move talent between sectors and professions. Using the Covid lockdown period as a test case several examples spring to mind. Here in the UK, we had an oversupply of hospitality workers and pilots and an undersupply of call centre operatives and delivery drivers.

To embrace the skills-first agenda, employers need to think about their current versus their future needs

To embrace the skills-first agenda, employers need to think holistically about their current needs versus their future needs. Strategic workforce planning is key. A skills-first approach requires employers to take stock of their existing employee base, what skills they already have and whether they can source talent internally. 

Internal mobility creates opportunities for employees and is a great way to retain talent. Where you do search externally, a skills-first hiring manager prioritises the future needs of the team and the business over shorter-term needs. This is particularly helpful in sectors where there is a talent and pipeline shortage.

This is something that I have no doubt we’ll be tackling at this year’s Anthropy gathering in early November, where Britain’s leaders and innovative thinkers come together to promote meaningful action for our country’s future – from sustainability to talent and more.

The skills pipeline shortage in green jobs

Thinking about Anthropy and its focus on sustainability and people, let us touch on green jobs and green skills as there is a talent and pipeline shortage in both. To meet current 2030 net-zero targets and resolve the shortage, hiring managers are thinking skills-first. For example, offshore engineers are specialised in using deep-sea rigs to extract gas and oil and time has shown us that those skills are transferable to the offshore wind industry. 

There are early indications that similar skills will be highly prized within the carbon-capture industry. To aid the transition from job A to job B, industry is stepping forward to collaborate with government and professional qualification associations to agree qualification passporting. This is a good step in the right direction, but more must be done.

Educators must also recognise that there is a paradigm shift in learning. Not everyone wants to go to university and with the skills-first agenda arguably not everyone needs to. We must also recognise that as we transition to green jobs those mid-career will also need to upskill or reskill to remain relevant. 

Enter the era of bite-sized learning, where people can learn online and on demand. This puts significant power in the hands of jobseekers and those with the resources at their fingertips will have the opportunity to thrive within the green economy. 

How business can upskill and reskill

It is vital that we move to a green economy – full of green jobs and green skills – together

In just a few short weeks I’ll be offering business leaders critical advice on how to start preparing for or take their actions to the next level, through various panel discussions at Anthropy in Cornwall. From skills shortages and talent gaps to hiring young talent for the future, there will be crucial insights from both PageGroup and the Green Jobs Foundation on how we turn this vision into a reality.

It is vital that, as we move forward to a green economy – full of green jobs and green skills – we do so together. We must not allow historical bias to continue. As a business community, we must ensure barriers to employment are broken down for under-represented communities. Not only is this the right thing to do but it is a business imperative. 

Only diverse thinking will combat the issues of climate change. We are at that unique moment in time when we can and will make a difference. So please join me as we embark on green jobs through the skills-first agenda as we prepare young people for the jobs of the future.

Anthropy is taking place at the Eden Project in Cornwall from 1 to 3 November 2023 and Raconteur is attending as a media partner. To find out more about the event and to book tickets, visit anthropy.uk

Joanna Bonnett is head of sustainability for PageGroup and founder of the Green Jobs Foundation