Scaling Europe’s Green Workforce: Insights from Generation

Europe aims to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. To accomplish this, around 18 million people across the region will require reskilling[1]. In response, the European Green Deal has been launched, with an earmarked investment of €65 billion in training and the anticipation of generating 1 million additional green jobs by 2030.[2]

Generation, a global non-profit network dedicated to transforming lives through training and job placement, is actively contributing to these efforts. In 2021, we launched our first green jobs initiative in Europe with the Sustainability Project Officer programme in the UK. Subsequently, we introduced three more green programmes: Solar PV installation, Heat Pump installation, and  Bike repair. Each Generation country in Europe now offers at least one green profession. So far, we have 472 green graduates and 86% of them have secured employment within six months of programme completion, underscoring the strong demand for green skills.

With these encouraging results, we want to grow our green learner volume. And yet, as we have learned over the past three years, there are a number of challenges that stand in the way of scaling the green workforce. They include:

Lack of Awareness & Applicant Biases

  • Awareness Gap: Many of our potential applicants are unaware of green job opportunities and their career prospects. For example, in the UK and Ireland, where we first launched our Retrofit Advisor programme, few applicants understood what the role entailed, hindering learner mobilisation. We have approached industry associations and government bodies to jointly address this challenge.
  • Applicant Biases: Many potential applicants show limited interest in our green programmes due to negative perceptions. In Spain, we notice a significant age gap in applicants for our Solar PV programme, with older learners (40+) outnumbering younger ones (18-29) by three to six times. Entry-level green roles are often perceived as less appealing because they involve manual work outdoors in male-dominated environments. Some applicants view these roles as difficult, low-paying, with limited progression and unsafe. We have adapted our approach to dispel these biases during the learner mobilisation phase.
  • Gender Gap: According to LinkedIn’s Green Gender report, women only represent a third of the green talent pool, compared to 44% of the global workforce. At Generation, we observe a similar trend in Europe, with only 22% of our learners in green programs are female, contrasting with 41% in non-green programmes. Despite actively promoting gender diversity through targeted initiatives, factors such as biassed self-perception, the physical nature of the work, and travel requirements contribute to the underrepresentation of women across green professions.

Training Barriers

  • Local Requirements: Designing a standardised curriculum for green jobs is challenging due to local regulations and specific market conditions across countries. At Generation, we have found it easier to develop a standardised curriculum for tech professions compared to green roles.
  • Infrastructure Constraints: Most of our green training programs require facilities to conduct in-person training. Our cohort size is limited by the capacity at these facilities. Scaling up becomes a challenge when we aim to reach thousands of learners at speed. Innovative technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Virtual Reality could provide immersive training experiences and address this limitation, but we are still in the early stages of exploration.

Job Market Barriers

  • Employer Size and Fragmentation: The fragmentation of employment in green jobs poses challenges in engaging employers and mobilising large job placement volumes efficiently. Often, we have had to mobilise one job at a time across multiple smaller companies, lacking the streamlined job aggregators found in the tech sector. To mitigate this challenge, we are exploring the use of AI job matching tools to enhance job placement efficiency.
  • Work Experience and/or Educational Requirements: The LinkedIn Global Skills 2023 report indicates that 81% of transitions into the green sector involve workers with existing green skills or prior green job experience. We are addressing these challenges by promoting skills-based hiring as well as focusing our programs on entry-level roles with fewer requirements to broaden access.
  • Mobility Constraints: Both Solar PV installation and Heat Pump installation roles require travel to client houses or project sites, which can be far away from our graduates’ homes. Furthermore, some Solar PV Installation roles require extended absences from home to work in remote sites, which can become difficult for learners with family obligations. We explore possible solutions through local associations and public schemes.

We are mindful that no single entity can tackle the above-described challenges alone. Indeed, we are exploring partnerships with local organisations and B2C marketing agencies focused on underserved communities to raise awareness of entry-level green jobs and address biases. On the employer front, we are exploring collaborations with trade associations and their members to potentially act as aggregators, expanding job mobilisation opportunities through their networks.

All Generation programmes are free to learners, thanks to the generous support from our funders. We extend our gratitude to our European funders, including Admiral Group, Autodesk Foundation, Bank of America Foundation, BlackRock Foundation, JP Morgan Chase Foundation, LinkedIn, Macquarie Group Foundation, McKinsey & Company, Eni Plenitude, Red Eléctrica, Shell, Verizon, and Workday Foundation. These are just a few of the organisations whose contribution has been instrumental in our  green skilling journey. With their continued collaboration and support, we are confident in our ability to overcome these challenges and scale our green programmes, ensuring no one is left behind in Europe’s climate transition.

[1] McKinsey & Company, Net-Zero Europe (2020)
[2] European Commission (2023)


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