Climate proficiency - an inevitable employability and future skill
The world of work is rapidly evolving. The global hunt for talent has seen a spike in recent years as both local and international companies are actively attracting and retaining the best hearts, minds and hands for their corporate mission and vision. Not just for the aforementioned purpose, but talent recruitment has also become critical for companies aiming to remain competitive and dynamic in their respective industries of operation. Countries like the US, UK, Canada and Australia, for example, have visa routes such as the Global Talent Visa as strategic interventions to recruit talents to occupy roles supporting their national transformation agendas.
The pressure and the complexity of the Human Resource (HR) function currently, especially post-pandemic, has been more serious than ever as HR professionals are recruiting and retaining with the future in mind. They are not only looking at those who can merely fill in the positions but candidates who can evolve out of their job profiles to meet the dynamism of the challenging market environment. While the conversation of recruitment and retention strategies for talents is still an ongoing debate (Islam et al., 2022), the risk of automation which was feared in the first instance as the push button for labor redundancy has not fully materialized as the human element in the production process has shown some sort of resilience in the wake of this call (Arntz et. al., 2016; PwC, 2017). Companies leveling to remain fit for the future of work have had to embed digitalization and sustainability in their work processes, which has invariably informed the labor force seeking opportunities in these industries to proactively position their skills in such a way that makes them fit for the future of work.
Owing to companies’ foresight about the future of work, there have been several studies across diverse industries seeking to address the big question of what future skills need to be acquired by candidates to make them fit for the future of work (Goulart et al., 2022). Aside from the technical skills required of the industry, initial results showed some common denominators such as people skills (emotional intelligence, active listening, attention span, leadership, negotiation), and digital and technological skills (familiarity with data analytics, AI, metaverse, and user experience).
These are gradually moving from desirable to essential future skills for the future of work. A recent survey report and campaign on Future Skills led by Professor Steven Spier of Kingston University London revealed that key attributes, such as problem-solving or process skills, critical thinking, communication, digital, analytical, adaptability, resilience, creativity, relationship building and initiative taking skills, are among the core skills most valued by employers (Future Skills Report, 2022). These have signaled the incorporation of these skills both in the formal and informal teaching and learning process.
Education for sustainable development
The strength of the digital education and competency development wave from the past three decades has presently been taken over by sustainability and ESG-related education. Professionals identifying with and as ESG analysts and experts have grown exponentially to the extent that the concept of “competence washing” is posing a significant risk to sustainable development.
The command of this wave is causing people who do not possess these skills, yet do not want to be left out, to somewhat create an artificial association to their online profiles. To combat this, some Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have taken the lead to embed Education for Sustainable Development (ESG) contents into the teaching curriculum through an interdisciplinary approach to equip students and graduates with the skills, knowledge and values needed to address the UN-SDGs and other global challenges relating to climate change and unsustainable resources use.
Climate proficiency (CPro)
There is overwhelming evidence of the impact of climate change on every facet of human life. Climate Proficiency (CPro), a coinage by the author, is defined as the possession and application of climate change-related knowledge, skills and values as it applies to a working environment or industry. CPro of existing and potential employees makes business sense for an organization in several ways.
First, the substantial amount of time and money spent on sustainability-related education and training of staff will be a thing of the past for forward-looking organizations, thereby saving them some good pennies. Second, in order to gain a competitive advantage over their peers, companies would want to generate and leverage internal knowledge, skills and practices of their human capital to gain ownership of climate initiatives and reduce reliance on outsourced ESG strategy and experts. Third, a company with CPro employees is able, through scenario analysis to quickly in a dynamic way, predict the material issues that may potentially affect their businesses in an ever-changing market environment, giving them an overnight advantage over their peers. Fourth, it initiates and sustains an inclusive and responsible approach to climate strategy development and implementation in an organization where employees are confident to communicate their organization's climate activities to stakeholders easily. Thus, existing and potential employees who want to stay relevant must consider CPro an imperative future skill to acquire.
The HR function is now recruiting and retaining talents for the future of work through the present portfolios advertised and CPro will arguably be one of the essential and not desirable skills which will be in high demand as well as a key criterion on the person specifications description. It becomes vital then that while developing your technical skills for whichever industry, job seekers or existing employees in order to fit into the future of work must develop their CPro.
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Islam, M.A., Mendy, J., Haque, A.A. and Rahman, M., (2022) Green human resource management practices and millennial employees' retention in small and medium enterprises: The moderating impact of creativity climate from a developing country perspective. Business Strategy & Development, 5(4), pp.335-349.
Arntz, M., Gregory, T., Zierahn, U., 2016. The risk of automation for jobs in OECD countries: A comparative analysis. Tech. Rep. 189, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers
PwC, 2017. Consumer spending prospects and the impact of automation on jobs. UK Economic Outlook, March.
Goulart, V.G., Liboni, L.B. and Cezarino, L.O., (2022) Balancing skills in the digital transformation era: The future of jobs and the role of higher education. Industry and Higher Education, 36(2), pp.118-127.
Future Skills Report (2022) Future Skills League Table 2022. Kingston University London. Available at: https://www.kingston.ac.uk/documents/user-upload/kingston-university-d2606ad3a3d-future-skills-report-2022-final.pdf [Accessed 27/04/2023]
About the author
Enoch Opare Mintah is a Ph.D. candidate at Kingston University London and an Associate Lecturer of Governance at the University of Lincoln, UK. His research interest and expertise revolve around ESG disclosures, Sustainability Reporting, Corporate Social Responsibility, Education for Sustainable Development, and Citizenship Education.