In a world grappling with the urgency of climate change, the workforce is undergoing a gradual transformation towards sustainability. As teachers, we can empower our students to start thinking about green careers and building green skills, so they’re prepared for whatever the future might be. First, let’s take a look at what green skills are and why they’re important, then discover ways to build green skills in the classroom.
What are green skills?
Green skills are generally defined as “knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society”.
LinkedIn’s recent Global Green Skills Report 2023 sheds some light on why green skills are valuable for the future. The report was based on the activities of over 930 million LinkedIn users globally. Here are some of their key findings:
- Green skills gap: Only one in eight workers currently has any green skills, emphasising a substantial gap in the workforce.
- Rapid growth in green talent: Between 2022 and 2023, the share of green talent in the workforce increased by 12.3%, outpacing overall job postings, which grew by 22.4%.
- Green hiring surge: Despite a global hiring slowdown, job postings requiring green skills increased by a median of 15.2%.
- Renewable energy boom: Employment in the renewable energy industry grew in every country studied, revealing a steady rise in green job opportunities.
What this means for students
According to a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the actions we take today will play a big part in whether or not our planet is habitable for future generations. Young people are often at the forefront of discussion and action on climate change, as it’s something that will directly affect them – and just recently, thousands of Australian high school students participated in strike action, calling for more action on climate change from our government.
It’s clear that developing green skills will be an important part of being able to find and secure work, as more and more employers are looking for workers equipped with these green skills. Young people are already engaged and willing to work towards a better future, so we should be encouraging this in the classroom.
Green thinking and skills in the classroom
As educators, we play a crucial role in preparing students for this green future. Here are some practical ways to infuse green thinking and skills into your lessons, classrooms, or school as a whole.
You could develop projects that challenge students to propose sustainable solutions for real-world issues, fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Project-based learning is a great way to encourage students to not just build these skills, but apply them as well.
For example, Year 10 students from Aitken College in Greenvale created an interactive nature walk to increase awareness of biodiversity. Newton Moore Senior Secondary College in Bunbury runs a Science Horizons extension program, allowing students to participate in several on- and off-campus research activities, often linked to the environment. One school in Armenia held information sessions within the community highlighting practical ways to reuse waste, and students and teachers worked together to plant over 100 trees near the school.
More ideas and resources:
- Sustainable Cities lesson series
- Resources from Sustainability in Schools
- Climate/Future Teaching & Learning Sequence
- CSIRO Sustainable Futures program
- Switched on Schools
- Cool Australia
- Climate Action Schools Program
- Earthwatch Schools Programs
- Sustainability activities in the classroom from Project Learning Tree
Encourage students to engage with local businesses and community organisations that promote green thinking and sustainable development. This could be through structured work experience opportunities, inviting guest speakers into your school, or running in-school workshops and programs.
Organisations and programs to get you started:
- Landcare Australia
- Green Skills
- CERES School of Nature and Climate
- CSIRO STEM Professionals in Schools
- Young Reporters for the Environment
Challenges and competitions
There are heaps of sustainability and environment-themed challenges and competitions out there aimed at schools and young people. Some of them can be integrated into classes and tackled in groups, while others are aimed at individual students and can be done on their own time.
Challenges and competitions to check out:
- MobileMuster School’s Competition
- Sustainability Through Your Own Lens Photography Competition
- Creativity in Research, Engineering, Science and Technology (CREST)
- Stockholm Junior Water Prize
- Bowseat Ocean Awareness Contest
- SBS School Nature Challenge
Talking about climate change can often come with feelings of anxiety and hopelessness. Here are some tools you can use to help students build resilience in the face of adversity:
Here are some podcasts you might like to listen to in class or share with students:
Here are some more education resources by state:
- Sustainable Schools NSW
- Sustainable Schools QLD
- ResourceSmart Schools VIC
- Sustainable Schools WA
- Sustainable Schools SA
- Sustainable Schools Program ACT
- Eco-School Program in the NT
- Sustainability Learning Centre TAS
And here are professional development resources for teachers looking to learn more about environment and sustainability:
- CERES School of Nature and Climate Professional Learning
- Cool Australia Professional Learning
- Sustainability Connect
- Earthwatch Teacher Development
Looking to the future
By building green thinking and skills in the classroom, you contribute to shaping a generation that will drive positive change, as well as ensuring your students will have the necessary skills to secure and thrive at work.
You can find heaps more resources on green careers and skills on our website here.