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Does Gen Z care about “green careers” or is money greener?

The say-do gap is closing. “Eco-anxiety” is setting in, prompting Gen Z to take matters into their own hands. What does this entail?

Eco conscious Gen Z

The highest green talent concentration within the UAE workforce is found among millennials, with Gen Z professionals underrepresented in “green skills” compared to cohorts from other generations, according to the latest research from LinkedIn – the world’s largest professional network – which also reveals that Gen Z don’t quite have the “green skills” required.

That said, it’s no surprise that Gen Z professionals in the UAE have clearly stated that they are climate conscious and eager to positively contribute to the climate action agenda.

Ali Matar, EMEA growth markets leader at LinkedIn, said, “Gen Z professionals are projected to represent over a quarter of the international labor force by 2025, so it is important that employers listen more closely to them.

“This generation is unyielding in their demand for green policies that match their values from their employers and decision-makers, and they are becoming increasingly aware of their role in addressing environmental issues. The first step for them is to acquire the green skills that would enable them to do so; an endeavor that would require the full weight of the labor market actors ,” Matar added.

According to LinkedIn’s latest data, the UAE ranks second in MENA region in terms of average green talent concentration across generations (Gen Z, millennial, Gen X, and boomers). The data also reveals that millennials make up 65 per cent of green skilled professionals, while only 15 per cent of green skilled professionals are Gen Z.

Is climate change important to the Gen Z workforce?

The say-do gap is closing. “Eco-anxiety” is setting in, prompting Gen Z to take matters into their own hands.

LinkedIn’s research shows that more than half of Gen Z respondents have made changes to their daily lives to minimise their carbon footprint (59 per cent). A close 61 per cent said that they now keep the environment in mind in making most of their daily decisions.

Clearly, the implications of climate change are front of mind for Gen Z professionals. More than 70 per cent of Gen Z professionals in the UAE have expressed their concern about the impact of climate change, with another 56 per cent saying that climate change is having a negative impact on their mental health.

This mindset has also trickled across to the workplace, with Gen Zers evaluating their professional decisions through an environmentally conscious lens. So much so that 61 per cent of Gen Z professionals said they would consider turning down a job opportunity if they do not believe in the employer’s green policies.

Moreover, the majority (59 per cent) are interested in working in a green job over the next five years. This interest is driven by their desire to protect the environment (57 per cent), their belief that there are good opportunities in green jobs (51 per cent), and the potential for better financial compensation (49 per cent).

Gen Z need integrated support to access green opportunities

Despite this overwhelming interest in green jobs, Gen Z professionals lack awareness of the green career paths available to them.

Research from LinkedIn highlights that only 3 in 10 Gen Z professionals in the UAE have a good awareness of the available green roles, while 63 per cent of them believe that there’s a general lack of green opportunities in the labor market. Only 16 percent believe adequate training is available to them to acquire green skills that would help them compete for these roles.

The UAE has been steadfast in its support for youth-led climate action. The United Nations Climate Summit (COP28) in Dubai offered a unique platform to expand youth participation in climate change policymaking through the International Youth Climate Delegates Program.

But on a more granular level, climate progress could be hindered unless green jobs become easier to access. This will require targeted action by businesses and policymakers in order to prepare young professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to integrate into green roles.

This sentiment is echoed by Gen Zers themselves, as 62 per cent of them in the UAE say that financial support, and more than 50 per cent say that employer-driven programs and government incentives would encourage them to complete green skills training.

Recommendations from the report

  • Businesses looking to “green their workforce” must take a skills-based approach to their talent strategies. This means identifying the skills their business will need to achieve their climate goals, hiring based on these skills rather than just their previous job title or academic qualifications, and implementing tailored and targeted skills programs and on-the-job training to bring in and develop younger workers.
  • For younger workers looking to break into green jobs, there are also steps they can take. For instance, strengthening their digital and STEM skills. LinkedIn data shows these will increase workers’ chances of successfully transitioning into green jobs.
  • Policymakers will also need to explore how they can forge partnerships to help transition workers into green jobs. And as countries introduce and roll out legislation to curb climate change by allocating funding toward green jobs, they’ll need to consider how to pair these mandates with appropriate levels of workforce training for every generation.