Creating jobs, scrapping jobs, upskilling… a continuous but crucial cycle when it comes to jobs and skills linked to the ecological transition. However, if we look beyond the definition of “green careers”, it is difficult to establish a clear picture as sources can differ. Below, we will use as a basis the first major trends identified under the Jobs & Skills strategy currently being implemented by the French General Secretariat for Ecological Planning (SGPE).

According to the SGPE, the ecological transition is expected to impact approximately 8 million jobs (in full-time equivalents in 2019) and could generate a net total of 150,000 jobs by 2030. These jobs are mainly in the industrial sector (reindustrialisation, gigafactories, etc.), energy (electrification, bioenergy, etc.), construction (renovation) and transport (road passenger transport, bicycles, rail, aerospace, etc.).

However, this increase masks significant shifts between sectors. The total of 150,000 FTEs is the difference between 400,000 FTEs created to meet new needs in existing sectors or in new sectors (e.g. hydrogen, batteries or heat pumps) and 250,000 FTEs scrapped in sectors such as automotive, road freight and refining. According to the SGPE, many of these shifts require extensive regional-level support work. They also go on to emphasise the high risk of positions remaining unfilled due to insufficient generational renewal.

In addition, there is “uncertainty in some sectors, such as construction and agriculture – where the trajectory of net jobs will depend on social choices (new build/renovation, agroecology, etc.) – and the circular economy, the potential of which is considerable and sustainable but whose prospects are currently unclear”. The SGPE also points out that the professions likely to see soaring numbers of workers are “often more physically demanding, which may affect the choices of the workforce in future”.

Where are the skills shortages ?

According to the SGPE, the main skills shortages by sector in 2030 will be:

Agriculture: farmers, breeders, forestry workers, woodcutters;

Construction: skilled professionals in public works, major works and finishing work, drivers of construction machinery;

Industry/Energy: technicians and supervisors in mechanical industries, textile and leather workers;

Transport: skilled handlers, vehicle drivers, transport operators.


Recruitment and training: the key challenges

The need for recruitment and training in areas of the ecological transition such as industry, transport and the energy renovation of buildings represents a major challenge for the SGPE, which believes that all workers will require varying levels of ongoing training in the issues of the transition, as all sectors will be impacted in the long term.

For the SGPE, initial training will prove crucial in enabling the new recruits to understand the right actions and behaviours for 2030; this will involve thoroughly reviewing much of the professional training currently available in the most relevant sectors.

They also explain that training facilities will need to be adapted, given that some of the future needs will be fulfilled by the massification of existing skills and jobs, particularly in industry and energy.

Finally, the SGPE stresses that regional authorities should be involved as soon as possible, as they will play a key role in overcoming these collective challenges.


Traditional training bodies are getting in on the act

Alongside a wide range of initial training for environmental professions – including vocational qualifications (CAP) at engineering schools, vocational Baccalaureats, technical diplomas (BTS), higher agricultural technician certificates (BTSA), university courses (degrees, master’s) and university bachelor’s degrees in technology (BUT, formerly DUT) including BUTs in biological engineering and HSE – traditional training bodies continue to formally incorporate issues linked to the environmental transition into their courses. The French National Institute for Arts and Crafts (CNAM), Sciences Po, the Higher School of Engineering for Aerospace Techniques and Automotive Construction (Estaca) and the Polytechnic School (École Polytechnique) feature among the most recent examples.

In September 2023, CNAM launched the School for the Ecological Transition and the School of Energy. The School for the Ecological Transition aims to meet the needs of job-creating sectors (health, low-carbon mobility, building renovation, logistics, technology, materials, forecasting and culture), prepare for careers of the future (data scientist, software developer, AI engineer, CSR manager, circular economy designer) and “green” careers (sanitation, waste treatment, water/energy distribution, green industry, etc.) and enable professionals to better consider environmental issues. The School of Energy primarily focuses on industrial decarbonisation, construction, mobility and the production and transportation of energy. With 100 modules on offer, each student can design their own learning pathway to best suit their needs and aspirations.

In November 2023, Sciences Po created the Institute for Environmental Transformations, a cross-disciplinary structure that should permeate the entire establishment, in addition to what it has offered for several years (e.g. a 24-hour ecological culture course for all bachelor’s students, work on environmental transformations, interdisciplinary environmental research workshop, European Chair for Sustainable Development and Climate Transition, etc.).

Estaca offers 5th year students at its Bordeaux campus a new specialism linked to innovation and decarbonisation in aviation. The aim is to train engineers so they are ready to help roll out innovative solutions with a view to achieving carbon neutrality and significantly reducing GHG emissions by 2030. In seven of the modules, studies are accompanied by an industrial project and a 24-week placement.

From the start of the 2024 academic year, the École Polytechnique will offer 2nd year engineering students a course on sustainable engineering. The purpose of this 40-hour college course (run by 8 teaching and research departments) is to provide a systematic outlook, scientific knowledge and various tools.

It is also worth noting that Veolia has recently launched a school dedicated to the ecological transition. Chaired by Jean-Louis Blanquer, Terra Academia intends to train over 60,000 people and offer work experience to more than 100,000 young people in career discovery programmes by 2030. The first campus opened in Arras on 18 March and another is set to follow soon in Paris. The idea is to establish a presence in all French regions within five years and to expand internationally within two years. This bespoke training initiative is designed for young people, people in employment or retraining, local government managers and local politicians.


Training provision is becoming increasingly tailored to circumstances on the ground. All of which helps to respond to the ever-increasing need for upskilling in light of the realities of the current transition, and is aided by the CSRD (European directive on corporate sustainability reporting) which recently came into force and calls on companies to invest in developing their available skills.

Management jobs turn to greening

In September 2023, the French Association for Jobs in Management (APEC) published a study on the greening of management jobs in the private sector. It reveals that while they may still be few (almost 25,000), management jobs and careers in the environmental sector will continue to proliferate. Job opportunities are increasing (+48% between 2019 and 2022, with 12,000 jobs published in 2022 alone), particularly in energy and regional planning/living environment/biodiversity. However, those linked to risk analysis and management are witnessing a decline. APEC points out that becoming a player in the ecological transition means adopting a more stringent environmental CSR policy and a policy of change in general. While this policy of change tends to be driven by the executive management, the role of HR managers is becoming increasingly important as they must ensure the upskilling of every employee in various fields.

N.B.: the French National Centre for Distance Education (CNED) and APEC have formed a strategic partnership to offer the “BA in climate and biodiversity”, created by CNED. This free, online public course aims to respond to the growing demand for awareness and training on environmental issues among professionals. There are five modules lasting between an hour and an hour and a half. A digital badge is awarded after passing a quiz at the end of each module. Once the student has earned all five badges, they receive the “Introduction to climate and biodiversity” (B.A.-BA du climat et de la biodiversité) badge as certification for the entire course.


Read more

– APEC report “Ecological transition, management jobs turn towards greening”, September 2023 This report also includes specific entries identifying the impacts of the ET on various management roles: HR & Training; Trade & Sales; Communication/Creation/Culture; Automotive Engineering; Chemical Engineering; Electronic Engineering; IT & IS; Works & Worksites; Urban Transport; Logistics; Industrial Production & Maintenance; Process & Methods; Procurement. Each entry sets out the main manifestations of greening and the main implications in terms of tasks and skills:—la-dynamique-de-verdissement-des-metiers-cadres-est-engagee.html


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