Green, power and project management skills: catalysts for climate progress


Skills have emerged as a critical area of focus. Forces such as globalisation and advancing technology continue to reshape most jobs, with emerging trends in AI, remote working and climate literacy among others placing demands on workers to acquire new skills. As economies transition from brown to green and AI becomes more mainstream, up-skilling and reskilling are par for the changes happening now.

The World Economic Forum’s ‘The Future of Jobs 2023’ report predicts that investments in the green transition of businesses will drive the strongest net job creation. Climate change adaptation and the demographic dividend in developing and emerging economies also rate high as net job creators. Technological advancement through increased adoption of new technologies and increased digital access are also expected to drive job growth.

So, what skills are needed today for these jobs?

With July 2023 declared the hottest month on record, the United Nations has warned that the “era of global boiling” has arrived. While 140 countries accounting for over 90% of greenhouse gas emissions have already proposed or set net-zero targets for around mid-century, encouraging employees to develop green skills through training is crucial.  The UN defines green skills as the knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society.

While most green conversations often gravitate toward technology, materials and waste, the role of project management is often undervalued. Project managers reduce the causes and consequences of climate change, as they help businesses transition to sustainable practices across industries. Project management is an increasingly scarce skill, though.

PMI’s Talent Gap report predicts that the global economy will need 25 million new project professionals by 2030, due to economic growth, increased jobs requiring project management-oriented skills, and retirement rates. To close the talent gap, 2.3 million project managers will be needed to fill these roles every year. Despite increased concern over climate change, Africa does not currently have necessary project management skills to support the green economy transformation.

Alongside project management skills and the development of green skills, youths entering the job market will also benefit from sharpening their soft or power skills (people-skills).  In the coming years, power skills are poised to be pivotal in shaping the future of young professionals.

PMI engaged young professionals to gain insights into the most critical skills on their career journey as part of its ‘The Path to Project Success: Essential Project Skills for Young Professionals 2023’ report. Among power skills, effective communication emerged as the top priority as it lays the foundation for successful interactions in the workplace. 93% said power skills helped them work smarter.

Problem-solving and strategic thinking were identified as essential competencies, enabling young professionals to overcome challenges and align their actions with organisational objectives. By fostering teamwork and empowering team members, collaborative leadership was highlighted as a skill that enables young professionals to inspire innovation and build trust within their teams. By honing these power skills, the next generation of professionals can confidently navigate the ever-changing job landscape.

The project manager has the most critical position on a project, and is responsible for its success. Because of the criticality of this role, project managers must have a host of skills and demonstrate adaptability and resilience. Flexibility in learning and embracing up-skilling opportunities are essential for staying relevant in this fast-changing environment.

Continuous learning and up-skilling are imperative for young professionals, especially as industries undergo rapid transformations. By being proactive and adaptable, they can position themselves as valuable assets to employers by staying updated with the latest trends and taking steps to enhance their resumes. Acquiring relevant certifications is a powerful way to demonstrate competency in their respective fields.

Up-skilling and reskilling can have a transformative impact on climate action and your career as you acquire the skills necessary to thrive in a green economy. By cultivating green skills and embracing the workforce’s evolving demands, you can position yourself as a standout professional who is well-prepared to drive positive impact and contribute to the green economy and climate action.

The writer is the Managing Director, sub-Saharan Africa, Project Management Institute 


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