A green workforce to save the planet 

With climate education becoming more accessible, professionals from a diversity of fields are switching to sustainability-related careers

May 03, 2023 09:51 am | Updated 11:21 am IST

After taking a climate fellowship with Terra.do, Shravan Shetty found a compelling reason to abandon his dream business and hit a green trail. A mechatronics engineer by training, he had become a restaurateur, a long-held dream driving the decision.

At AquaKraft Ventures, where Shravan is head of products, work is under way to find solutions to water and sanitation-related problems.

“Through our platform Aqverium, we are working on how to incentivise the art of saving water rather than penalising it,” Shravan discloses.

Shravan comes across as a man who has found his calling — all because a climate fellowship came his way.

It just bolsters the case for having climate change-related programmes that are geared to jobs in that space. There is a growing demand for these job-oriented programmes, and this demand is coming from unlikely quarters.

Employed in the CSR arm of an American cloud-based software company, Srichandana Nagoji is midway through a four-month certificate course on climate change and net zero from the School of Policy and Governance. “I signed up for this course out of my own curiosity to understand various aspects of climate change and environment and how I can better apply them in my sector,” says Srichandana.

Business journalist Saumy Prateek switched to a renewable energy company as assistant general manager (digital and content marketing), and a three-month fellowship is the impetus behind this move.

Short-term courses

Sustainability has firmly planted its feet in university education. Indian Institute of Technology, Indian Institute of Management, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and The Energy and Resource Institute are among institutions offering specialised courses around green economy, sustainable products, green marketing and green manufacturing. For mid-career professionals strapped for time short-term courses on these subjects are obviously a better fit.

If they make the switch to climate change-related work, these professionals could be bringing valuable expertise to it.

Anshuman Bapna, founder and CEO, Terra.do says climate solutions span the entire spectrum of functional skills — from software to accounting.

He illustrates the point by dwelling on the Terra.do programme.

“Someone with a software background could use the programme to identify, say, that nature-based solutions (NBS) appeal to their sense of impact. Then, the programme helps them understand that NBS requires software skills in many ways: for example, for using satellite images to identify forest cover, and companies in that space range from Pachama (growing forests) to Pixxel (creating satellite imagery). Finally, the programme runs a parallel career track that helps professionals articulate their skills, introduces them to hiring managers in these companies through our job fairs and helps them find mentors working in NBS, and sometimes even in the same company.”

Platforms like Coursera and Emeritus offer certificate programmes in association with leading universities. Carbon Minus India also has certificate courses.

Some companies run their own training programmes in sustainable finance, sustainability reporting and other areas of sustainability. Tata Power, for instance, has a mobile application to educate and engage people on the importance of climate change and the actions they can take to reduce their carbon footprint.

Three categories

A study by Microsoft and Boston Consulting Group titled ‘Closing the Sustainability Skills Gap: Helping businesses move from pledges to progress’ notes the gap in climate change can be divided into three sections — one, lack of deep and specialised sustainability knowledge and skills in areas like carbon accounting, carbon removal and ecosystem services valuation.

Two, a lack of ability among business teams to view procurement and supply chain management in the light of climate change issues. And three, the lack of basic and broader fluency in sustainability issues among the workforce.

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