The green economy will create 24 million jobs
Environmentally focused bachelor's and master's degrees are emerging in response to the planet's climate emergency and new labour market demands
Environmental communicator, sustainable tourism specialist and ecodesigner are just some of the latest job positions to come out of the green economy. According to the report "World Employment and Social Outlook 2018: Greening with jobs" from the International Labour Organization (ILO), 24 million new jobs will be created between now and 2030 as the world shifts towards a greener economy. The study reveals that the most sought-after fields will be related to energy efficiency, waste management and the fight against pollution. How should universities be adopting this trend with a view to professionally training citizens and satisfying real market demands?
For Vice President for Competitiveness and Employability, Àngels Fitó, "our relationship with the environment is a global affair that concerns a great many professionals in sectors such as technology, biology, law, the economy or the humanities."
As well as the courses that focus on combating climate change, such as the University Master's Degree in Sustainable Tourism and ICTs, the Joint University Master’s Degree in Space Design, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (UOC, Elisava), the postgraduate course in Technology and Water Management (Agbar, UOC, UPC) or the specialization programme in Smarter Cities and Citizenship, Fitó is of the opinion that "every programme needs to be grounded in a commitment to awareness and knowledge about the environment, which is seen as a multidisciplinary focus throughout all stages of the educational system."
Environmental health, sustainable tourism and ecodesign
The ILO study suggests that several new jobs related to environmental health will be created in the field of medicine. Ramon Gomis, dean of the UOC's Faculty of Health Sciences explained that "climate change will have an effect on our health due to concerns such as, if the temperature rises by an average of two degrees, the mortality rate among older people will also increase. The rate of infections will also rise, with dehydration rates and gastrointestinal disorders being the most prolific cases." Gomis believes that "preventing illnesses is not only about making individual and community-wide efforts on the ground; it will also encompass global attitudes that affect the balance of our ecosystems."
Tourism is another activity that already has a grave impact on the planet. This sector contributes considerably to climate change, especially due to the environmental impact caused by transport. It also has a significant impact on the destinations in question, affecting both the physical surroundings and the local residents. Soledad Morales, director of the UOC's University Master's Degree in Sustainable Tourism and ICTs, highlighted that as our awareness of the repercussions of certain forms of tourism has increased, concepts such as sustainability and responsibility have started to gain ground.
Another new profession born out of the climate change emergency is the ecodesigner. In fact, the UOC and Elisava have launched the Master’s Degree in Space Design, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. For Ricardo Guasch, who has a PhD in architecture and directs this master's degree, one of this course's proposals is for these immersive techniques "to allow professionals, both in real time and during the design phase, to improve not only the formal characteristics, but also the intrinsic characteristics of spaces." He's talking about creating solutions to concerns held by today's society such as ecoefficiency, the health of spaces, new materials, access to the internet of things (IoT) and latest generation technologies such as artificial intelligence or robotics.
We are also seeing more jobs related to renewable energy. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency's (IRENA) latest report, in 2018 there were eleven million people working in renewable energy around the world. The ILO report states that new jobs will be created by adopting sustainable practices in the energy sector, including changes to the combination of energy sources, encouraging the use of electric vehicles and increasing buildings' energy efficiency.
The study also points out that six million jobs could be created thanks to the transition towards a "circular economy", which includes processes such as recycling, repairs, rental and remanufacturing, which will replace the traditional economic model of "extraction, manufacture, use and disposal".
The report also invites every country to adopt urgent measures that will equip employees with the skills necessary to transition towards a greener economy.