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The ecological transition is imposing itself on companies and invites them not only to review the core of their activity but also the acquisition and mobilization of the right skills. Among the many challenges facing the profession, this adaptation appears more frequently in conversations.

Environmental protection and the fight against global warming are imperatives that the vast majority of companies are converting into visible levers of attractiveness. One question remains: what about identifying and mastering the key expertise required for this transition? Between February 2022 and February 2023, job offers on LinkedIn requiring at least one green skill increased by an average of 15.2

Our article focuses on investigating the new functions that are currently emerging as a result of this new situation and the impacts on current activities. We will then be able to consider the skills that are emerging as well as those whose current reality will be most affected. 

To carry out these transformations, companies must rely on specific expertise. The approach of our article has 3 parts:

  • Examine the new jobs, called "green jobs" in the excellent Apec study
  • Observe the evolution of the so-called "greening" professions, defined as the jobs traditional ones whose sustainable development influences the main skills used on a daily basis. 
  • Anticipate to derive meta-skills essential for strategic HR planning.
Compare the solutions for managing skills

New Jobs Emerging from Sustainable Transition 

Estimating precisely the extent of new job creation linked to the ecological transition is complex, as it depends on many factors such as the evolution of environmental policies, technological advances, the specific needs of industrial sectors, etc. However, it is certain that the ecological transition is generating new professional opportunities, leading to significant changes in many fields and whole areas of expertise that are booming.

What is a "green skill"?

In the context of the ecological transition, a green sustainable can be defined as a skill or know-how that allows to address environmental, social and economic sustainability issues. A skill sustainable can encompass specific knowledge related to environmental issues, technical skills to use clean technologies, skills in resource management or environmental impact assessment, and interpersonal skills to collaborate effectively in multidisciplinary teams focused on sustainability.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of jobs emerging or developing qualifications that address these issues:

the new tradesmen of the ecological transition
The new jobs of the ecological transition

Energy efficiency expert

It is a professional who assists companies and individuals in the implementation of solutions to reduce their energy consumption, including thermal insulation, energy renovation, lighting management, etc.

Top 3 News skills : 

  • Ability to analyze and evaluate energy needs
  • Ability to propose adapted and innovative technical solutions
  • Mastery of tools for measuring and monitoring energy consumption

Renewable energy engineer

This engineer is specialized in the design and installation of energy production systems from renewable sources, such as wind, solar, hydraulic, biomass, etc.

Top 3 News skills : 

  • Facility design and sizing capabilities
  • Mastery of standards and regulations related to renewable energy
  • Ability to conduct feasibility studies and business cases

Consultant in sustainable development

This professional accompanies companies in the implementation of sustainable development strategies, aiming to reconcile economic, social and environmental performance.

Top 3 News skills : 

  • In-depth knowledge of issues and regulations related to sustainable development
  • Ability to carry out diagnostics and evaluations of the environmental and social performance of organizations
  • Mastery of evaluation and reporting tools related to sustainable development

CSR Project Manager

This is a position in a company aimed at implementing a corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy, taking into account the company's environmental and social impacts.

Top 3 News skills : 

  • Expertise in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and related standards
  • Ability to integrate environmental and social issues into the company's strategy
  • Ability to lead and coordinate cross-functional projects

Eco-responsible designer

This designer specializes in the design of eco-designed products and services, taking into account the entire life cycle of products, from conception to end of life.

Top 3 News skills : 

  • Knowledge of the principles of eco-design and the life cycle of products
  • Ability to integrate environmental criteria into the design process
  • Ability to research sustainable materials and assess their environmental impact

ESG Analyst

This professional is specialized in the analysis of environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria of companies, in order to measure their global impact and their contribution to the ecological transition.

Top 3 News skills : 

  • Strong knowledge of ESG criteria and evaluation methodologies
  • Collection and analysis and interpretation of non-financial data
  • Mastery of ESG assessment and reporting tools

The ecological transition is not only limited to the creation of new jobs, but also generates changes in existing functions. Many traditional activities must adapt and integrate know-how related to sustainable development and environmental responsibility. The future will therefore consist of a combination of the creation of new specialized jobs and the evolution of existing roles. Some emerging jobs may require deep reskilling, i.e. the acquisition of new specific technical expertise. For example, for energy efficiency experts or renewable energy engineers, specialized training is required to master new technologies and sustainable practices.

Considering that 850,000 job seekers, or 14% of them, are looking to grow in the green economy according to Onemev in 2022, this is a major career transition opportunity.

At the same time, many existing jobs require upskilling, i.e., improving existing qualifications to incorporate aspects related to the green transition. Let's now take a look at some of these greening professions.

Traditional Roles Impacted by Ecological Changes

The ecological transition does not only represent constraints and compliance imperatives for companies, but also a real opportunity for improvement and transformation. 

Indeed, the transition to more sustainable and energy-efficient practices benefits businesses on two levels

  1. Reduced energy costs through process thinking around more efficient technologies.
  2. New business opportunities based on differentiation to meet the growing expectations of their customers in terms of environmental responsibility.

The energy, construction, transport and trade sectors are, at first sight, the most concerned by the subject; as for the professions, they cover a wide range of realities, from engineering to finance and logistics.

Which jobs are likely to change the most in the coming years?

According to the OECD in its note for a transition to a green economy, engineering, logistics, purchasing, finance, law, but also architecture or agriculture are the professions that will be the most profoundly modified in the next 5 years. 

Here's a non-exhaustive view of the traditional roles that will be metamorphosing the most.

Government jobs impacted by the ecological transition
Traditional trades impacted by the ecological transition

Overview of the impacted government jobs:

Engineering professions

skills in growth for engineering :

  • In-depth knowledge of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies
  • Modeling and optimization of energy systems
  • Mastery of environmental standards and regulations

Logistics professions

skills in progression for logistics :

  • Knowledge of sustainable logistics practices and optimization of goods flows
  • Ability to implement reverse logistics and waste management processes
  • Control of information systems for traceability and sustainable inventory management

Financial professionals

skills in Finance evolution:

  • Understanding of ESG (environmental, social and governance) issues and criteria in investment evaluation
  • Ability to integrate sustainability and responsibility factors into financial analysis
  • Knowledge of financing mechanisms for projects related to the energy and ecological transition

Legal Professionals 

skills growing in the field of Law :

  • Mastery of national and international environmental regulations
  • Understanding of legal issues related to sustainability and corporate responsibility
  • Ability to advise companies on environmental and social compliance issues

Additional Resources Section : 

Cross-functional Skills Highlighted by Ecological Transformation

Knowledge of environmental issues

This know-how is essential to understand the challenges and issues related to sustainability and ecological transition. It concerns many professions, such as engineering, architecture, agriculture, logistics, finance, communication and law.

Sustainable project management

The ability to manage projects that incorporate sustainability objectives is becoming important in many professions. This includes planning, organizing, coordinating and monitoring initiatives related to the ecological transition.

Impact analysis and evaluation

Assessing the environmental, social and economic impact of professional activities has become crucial. This skill concerns in particular the engineering, architecture, logistics, finance and legal professions.

Communication and awareness

Effective communication on sustainability issues and stakeholder awareness are key skills. They are needed in the communications business, but also in other businesses to disseminate information and encourage the adoption of sustainable practices.

Innovation and adaptation

The ecological transition often requires innovative approaches and the ability to adapt to new technologies, regulations and sustainable practices. These skills are important in several professions, including engineering, architecture, agriculture, and logistics.

Key Competencies for Successful Sustainable Transition in the Organization

How to define the notion of "Meta-skills"?

Meta-skills refer to a set of general skills that are essential for adapting to and succeeding in a wide range of professional contexts and domains. Unlike technical skills that are specific to a particular occupation or function, meta-skills are broader and can be applied across the board. As a result, they are often seen as essential foundations for personal and professional development; once acquired, learning the full range of related skills will be easy .

The meta-skills of the ecological adaptation of companies 

Systems thinking:

The ability to understand and grasp the interconnections between the environmental, social and economic aspects of an organization or project. This involves seeing the links between the different parts of a system and anticipating potential impacts.

Emotional Intelligence:

The ability to manage one's emotions and understand those of others. This includes empathy, effective communication, conflict resolution, and the ability to work in teams in contexts of change and sensitivity to environmental issues.

Critical thinking:

The ability to thoroughly analyze information, evaluate different perspectives and make informed decisions. This involves questioning current practices, identifying opportunities for improvement and challenging existing paradigms.

Adaptability:

The ability to adapt quickly to change and new sustainability requirements. This includes flexibility, openness and a willingness to challenge traditional ways of working to adopt new, more sustainable approaches.

Responsible Leadership:

The ability to lead and influence others to adopt sustainable practices. This involves providing a clear vision, mobilizing teams, fostering collaboration and making responsible decisions that take into account environmental, social and economic aspects.

Creative Thinking:

The ability to generate innovative ideas and find creative solutions to environmental challenges. This includes exploring new technologies, sustainable business models and environmentally responsible practices.

Change Management :

‍Theability to manage change processes, engage stakeholders, and overcome resistance. This involves anticipating obstacles, communicating effectively, and creating an environment conducive to the adoption of sustainable practices.

Scope of "sustainable" metaskills for HR professionals

Anticipating all of these decisive factors in the company's performance early on is one of the most interesting challenges facing HR professionals. Today, only 17 professions in the Apec reference system, made up of 444 roles, are characterized as "green". Numerous 'professional realities' are emerging, the ADEME speaks of the creation of 1 million jobs in France by 2050, these roles are sought after by the French even though there is still a lack of education on their description.

This acceleration in the greening of jobs is accompanied by new opportunities in training practices to take full advantage of these developments. The ecological transition is leading to the creation of new specialized professions and to changes in existing functions. In order to anchor this reality in the daily life of companies, it is now essential to identify the specific needs of the different sectors and to ensure, depending on the context, effective reskilling or upskilling.

Revitalizing Job Roles with a Fresh Approach

In conclusion, the sustainable transition requires companies to rethink their functions and develop new qualifications and modes of action adapted to this new reality. Green activities are emerging in response to environmental issues, while traditional roles are impacted by ecological developments. Beyond the specific qualifications of each profession, certain cross-disciplinary skills are also emerging as crucial, such as knowledge of sustainable technologies, mastery of environmental standards and the ability to model and optimize energy systems.

However, the sustainable transition is not limited to the transformation of professions, it also requires a more global reflection on the practices and culture of the company: 

  • First of all, we see the development of a conception of work that emphasizes the prevalence of skills to the trades, i.e. the organization centered around skills. This approach responds to the transversal evolution of the company, whose reality is now made up of federating teams around projects.
  • Secondly, the concept of the learning company also takes on its full meaning. A learning organization fosters the continuous acquisition of skills, encourages innovation and adaptability, and integrates sustainable transition as a central element of its strategy.
  • Finally, this new HRM factor calls for anticipatory management for which artificial intelligence is a powerful indicator of weak signals. This technology, associated with collective intelligence, will convert the governance of skills into a critical asset for company performance.

In short, to succeed in the sustainable transition, companies must not only identify the key expertise required for their businesses, but also adopt a learning company approach that encourages adaptation and innovation. This is how they will be able to seize the opportunities offered by the ecological transition while contributing to the construction of a sustainable future. Through its collaborative dimension, the Talent Marketplace is a vector for accelerating this adaptation: opportunities for training, mentoring, and short projects, everyone is involved in the transfer of new know-how.