By Anish De, Global Head, Energy Natural Resources and Chemicals, KPMG International and Debabrata Ghosh, Government and Public Services-Education and Skills Practice, KPMG in India

In a nutshell...

  • A smooth transition to a green economy requires new skills and capabilities
  • Governments need to prioritize upskilling and training for new green jobs
  • The Government of India has a strong track record for upskilling in new industries and technologies
  • India's Skill Council for Green Jobs aims to certify more than 1 million learners in the next 3 years.
You can't achieve a green transition without the right green capabilities and skills. As the OECD argued in a recent report, “the availability of workers and enterprises with the right skills for green jobs plays not only a critical role in initiating the transition to a green economy, but also in enabling a just transition that ensures social inclusion and decent work.” 
Why is that? Green jobs are critical to driving sustainable development. At a local or market level, they can help encourage economic growth (through job creation) and development (by, for example, improving raw material and energy efficiency). They can help markets drive their journey to Net Zero (by providing the skills needed to limit greenhouse gases and minimize waste). And they can help encourage equity and inclusion (by targeting training at underrepresented groups, for example).
Combined, these skills can have a massive impact. Indeed, the availability of a range of skilled and certified green workers can provide a market with the intellectual capital, capabilities and ecosystems they need to drive massive change. Consider, for example, how green capabilities embedded in a corporation could lead to more equitable goods and services, cleaner transportation or more environmental buildings.

What are green jobs?

Green jobs are roles that contribute to the preservation and restoration of the environment - primarily key sectors such hydro energy, wind energy, solar thermal, biomass power, waste/ water management, transportation and manufacturing. These may be highly technical roles like engineers or researchers. But they also include a wide range of other job areas such as solar PV installer, site surveyor or even waste picker. All of these roles help contribute to the greening of the planet.

What governments are increasingly recognizing is that the transition to new green jobs and a green economy will require investment into tools, organizations and training aimed at upskilling their populations. And that means hiring qualified trainers, creating the right educational infrastructure, encouraging R&D and partnering with the private sector to create relevant training courses alongside capacity-building activities.

To achieve real impact - and a more just, equitable society - these training investments must be inclusive. In a post-pandemic world, online training and e-learning systems must be mixed with offline capacity and training centers in order to ensure equitable access. Training should be relevant to a range of social dimensions related to the gender equality, poverty, the labor market and unemployment. Governments may also want to focus training towards disadvantaged groups or towards sectors where employment levels are declining due to changes in the business environment.

Training the trainers

One of the biggest challenges governments often face involves a shortage of teachers and trainers in green capabilities. Some governments are tackling this with both a bottom-up and a top-down approach, focusing on skills that support their key policy initiatives while also engaging with the business and community to anticipate, define and address skills and educational policies.

Governments also often struggle to engage the private sector in these types of programs. But now the environment has changed. And corporates are keen to be involved in driving the enablers of the green economy. Companies recognize that ESG can help them improve their impact on the planet while also saving costs, driving talent acquisition and creating wealth. In the post-pandemic world, policymakers and corporates are on the same page when it comes to prioritizing ESG.  

India spots an opportunity

India has a reputation for rapidly upskilling its population in emerging industries and technologies. Much of the country's success in skills training can be traced back to the establishment of the first Industrial Training Institute in 1969. Since then, the Government of India has launched a succession of powerful initiatives, each aimed at increasing the value and impact of skills training.

In 2008, the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) were established to create PPP models in an effort to link the industry with those in the skills ecosystem. 2013 saw a new National Qualification Framework established. And the NSDC launched a range of other programs designed to bring the public and private sector closer together on training.

Ultimately, the importance of skills training led to the establishment of the Ministry for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship in 2014. MSDE is responsible for coordinating all skills development efforts across the country, removing the disconnect between demand and supply of skilled manpower, building the vocational and technical training framework, building new skills and innovative thinking not only for existing jobs but also jobs that are to be created.

A skill council for green jobs

Formal efforts to foster green jobs in India kicked off in earnest in 2015 with the launch of the Skill Council for Green Jobs. It was established as a not-for-profit, autonomous, industry-led unit that aims to identify the skilling needs of service providers and manufacturers in green business sectors. It focuses on building industry connections for demand aggregation, the definition of job roles, and validation of qualification packs and e-learning modules.

The idea is to enable the implementation of a plan that will deliver the entrepreneurship and collaborative skill development needed to meet the needs of a green global economy. The Skills Council for Green Jobs has already outlined 50 job roles with training available at different levels. By 2025, it expects and targets to accredit 60 training organizations, train 1,490 trainers and certify more than a million learners with its initiatives.

Towards the green economy

As governments and corporations seek to deliver on their Net Zero goals and to ease the transition towards a green economy, the fostering of green capabilities and skills - alongside the creation of green jobs - will be critical. This will require close partnership between the public and private sectors around skill development and capacity building. It will also necessitate more forward-looking policies supported by long-term goals.

India seems keen to capitalize on the growing opportunity presented by the green economy. Yet they are not the only ones.


Get in touch


Making the green recovery work for jobs, income and growth, OECD, Updated 06 October 2020.