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Green finance jobs are in demand. The skills you need

As the issue of global sustainability increases, the finance sector is transforming. The UK’s green finance sector is experiencing a surge in job opportunities. According to the ONS data, employment in green jobs in 2022 was 8.4% higher than the previous year.

This rise in green finance jobs is not a trend. It is a reflection of the broader shift towards a low-carbon economy. Yet, this burgeoning field needs more skills. It is challenging the industry to grow a workforce equipped for the green revolution.

The ‘green’ skills shortage

At the end of 2023, 16,700 green finance roles remain unfilled. It shows that worker upskilling does not match the pace of the rapid expansion of the sustainable finance profession. This analysis from PwC was conducted in partnership with the Financial Services Skills Commission. Analysts found that the proportion of ‘green’ financial sector job postings was 2.2% – almost a tenfold increase on the 2019-20’s proportion.

Opportunities in London and Scotland

As the UK strives to meet its 2050 net-zero target, the demand for green finance professionals is expected to grow. This offers a wealth of opportunities for finance professionals.  Although 7,000 of these roles were based in London, demand for skilled workers is increasing in Scotland, where 2,200+ roles were open.

Green finance roles

Popular role creations include ESG analysts, sustainable investment strategy developers, and climate finance specialists.

  • ESG Analysts: collect, analyse, and interpret environmental, social, and governance data. They check companies’ sustainability performance and inform investment decisions.
  • Sustainable Investment Strategy Developers: create plans for investing money that are good for the environment; and company management: Their goal is to ensure that investments are profitable and have a positive impact.
  • Climate Finance Specialists: These experts find and manage money for projects that fight climate change, such as clean energy.
  • Green Bond Specialists: Green bonds finance projects that have positive environmental benefits. As green bonds grow, more banks will establish sustainable finance departments. Specialists help structure, market, and manage green bond offerings.
  • Carbon Market Analysts: Carbon markets involve trading carbon credits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Analysts track market trends and provide insights to investors.

Other job titles include:

  • renewable energy project finance manager
  • climate risk analyst
  • sustainability consultant
  • impact investment manager.

The green finance sector is dynamic. New roles will emerge as organisations prioritise sustainability and climate action.

Can you fill the ‘green skills gap’?

According to The Sustainability Talent Gap in Finance report, sustainability reporting has emerged as the most sought-after skill within corporate finance departments. This reflects a shift in the priorities of financial professionals towards integrating sustainability into their finance practices.

When respondents were asked to name the most in-demand skill for their future hiring, 68% cited ESG data collection and reporting. Regulatory landscape knowledge was also ranked highly.

As the need for green skills increases, the number of professionals with these skills fails to keep up, leading to a green skills gap. Green finance professionals need a deep understanding of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors.  Also, they need to integrate these into financial analysis and decision-making.

Other important skills include:

  • stakeholder management
  • communication
  • meeting deadlines
  • expertise in sustainability reporting
  • experience in investor relations
  • knowledge of green finance products

As the green finance landscape expands, these skills will become more important for finance professionals seeking to contribute to the transition towards a sustainable future.

How to develop your green finance skills

Moving into a green finance career involves a multifaceted approach. This includes upskilling, networking, and staying informed about new industry trends. Here are some steps to help you make the transition:

  • Take courses or certifications in sustainable finance, ESG criteria, and climate risk analysis. The National Careers Service offers free Skills Bootcamps in green skills.
  • Look for ways to apply your finance skills to green finance, such as analysing green bonds or advising on sustainable investments.
  • Join professional networks and attend industry events to connect with professionals in the field.

Don’t forget to stay updated with industry knowledge by reading reports and insights from reputable sources. PwC UK’s Green Jobs Barometer and the Financial Services Skills Commission provide information on jobs and skills. Keep an eye on government strategies and policies related to green finance. The UK government’s Green Finance Strategy outlines its commitment to becoming a net-zero economy and the role of finance in this transition.

ESG vs. green finance: the difference

Green finance and ESG may seem like interchangeable terms. Yet they have distinct focuses. The former relates to finances for sustainable projects and technologies. It includes investments in renewable energy, green bonds, energy-efficient infrastructure, and green technologies. ESG finance, or sustainable finance, is a broader framework. It is used to evaluate the sustainability and social impact of company operations. Investors often use it to assess a company’s long-term sustainability and risk profile.

While green finance is about funding environmental projects, ESG is about evaluating companies’ sustainability practices, including social and governance aspects.

A new area for graduates and finance professionals

The PwC report states that graduates with sustainability skills could only fill 900 vacancies, pointing to a lack of green knowledge and skills provision in traditional degree programmes for financial professionals.

Green skills are no longer a niche specialisation, but core to jobs in financial services, not something traditionally associated with sustainability.  As the green finance sector grows, bridging the skills gap becomes vital. For finance professionals aspiring to join this area, it’s a call to action—upskill.

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