June 7, 2023

Green literacy is a new take on skills (SDG 13)

We – not just our sector and not just Canadians, but everyone around the globe – are in a period of monumental change. We need to double our efforts now to build a sustainable future where all are included. As educators, that means we must be adaptable and ready to meet the needs of our learners. 

Research from RBC Capital Markets projects that 3.1 million jobs amounting to 15% of the Canadian workforce will see disruption within the next decade while the economy transitions to a net-zero future. 

What does that mean for colleges and institutes? Part of building a sustainable future is equipping youth with the skills they need to get green jobs. Just under 1,000 total college and institute programs (or approximately 10% of all programs) are focused on sustainability 

  • It’s important to note that these programs are not in exclusively green fields. Rather, these programs ensure that green competencies and green literacy are incorporated across all fields. These programs include Building, Construction & Architecture fields, Engineering, Hospitality & Tourism, Business Management, Food & Horticulture, and Sciences. 

And, with training, transition paths also exist from at-risk to rapid-growth jobs in the clean economy. With only one year of retraining, almost 58% of possible transition paths become feasible. 

The other side of the equation? Non-technical skills will be just as important as, if not more important than, technical skills. In fact, technical skills combine with non-technical skills to form “green literacy,” which is essential for the workforce in a net-zero future. 

  • The top five skills that rank as fundamental for the workforce in a net-zero future are critical thinking, monitoring, coordination, judgement and decision making, and complex problem solving. (These are skills that will also be help in responding to labour market shifts caused by automation). 

The transition to a net-zero economy will be an enormous challenge for Canada – and for the world. Our success will depend on the way we think about skills.