Equipping Today’s Youth for Green Careers
A sustainable and equitable future for all hinges on the new generation of youth, empowered, and equipped with the knowledge and skills to address and mitigate the intractable issues we see and experience around the world today. This is where sustainability education, adopting an experiential learning model, plays a critical role.
In response to the increasing awareness of sustainable development among the private sector, civil society and the public, academia, and governments worldwide, the sustainability industry is quickly becoming very popular among jobseekers. The reason is simple: businesses are coming to terms with the fact that sustainability can no longer be just a nice-to-have, but that it is essential to business growth.
According to the International Labour Organization, the green economy has the potential of creating 24 million jobs worldwide by 2030. In 2019, the rate of green hiring exceeded that of the overall hiring rate in most economies around the world. Meanwhile, the share of green talents has grown from 9.6% in 2015 to 13.3% in 2021, a cumulative growth rate of 38.5%.
Hong Kong has also been taking steps towards a more sustainable future. Back in December 2020, the Green and Sustainable Finance (GSF) Cross-Agency Steering Group announced that disclosures aligned with the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures will be mandatory across relevant sectors by 2025. Recently, the Steering Group has launched the GSF Training Information Repository, GSF Internship Opportunities Repository, and the GSF Data Source Repository to build capacity, train talents, and enhance data resources for the progress of green and sustainable finance in Hong Kong.
But green and sustainability jobs are by no means limited just to the finance and accounting industries. In its Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2050, the Hong Kong government has outlined several medium-to-long-term decarbonisation targets spanning over electricity generation and consumption, transport, and waste management, and the implementation of these strategies are expected to create more green jobs.
There is a green dream job for every interest, skill-set, and educational background. However, when looking for jobs related to sustainability, youth and jobseekers in general need to be mindful of the possibility of being greenwashed. Greenwashing, put simply, is the deceptive use of advertising or marketing initiatives to persuade the public that a company's products, vision, and policies are aligned with sustainability principles, albeit without backing up the claims with substantial evidence.
How can we safeguard ourselves against greenwashing then? By developing information literacy and gaining hands-on experience in the sustainability field. At GREEN Hospitality, we believe it is never too early to start one’s sustainability journey. Since 2018, we have been empowering youths to do precisely that by placing them in meaningful internships and volunteering opportunities, where they can gain invaluable 21st century skills from learning to organise and manage our core events, such as the annual Conference, Hackathon, Think Tanks, and many more. From event management, business development, teambuilding, communications and marketing to research assistance, our student interns were able to have a realistic understanding that every job can be a green job, and that they can apply their skills and knowledge to multidisciplinary fields to contribute to a better future for all.
Apart from internships, we also gamify the learning and knowledge exchange experience for youth. Our GREEN Hackathon, for example, brings innovators, hospitality employees, and youth work together to develop suitable solutions to accelerate the transformation towards a more sustainable future. The prizes are attractive, of course: for this year’s Hackathon, winning teams were entitled to direct admission to the HKSTP Ideation Programme, seed money, VIP tickets to GREEN Conference 2022, a summer internship at The Mills Fabrica, as well as foodpanda vouchers.
GREEN Hackathon 2022 first prize winner, Team Mori, who created the world's first recyclable disposable slippers to reduce the waste of single-use slippers.
But more importantly, GREEN Hackathon gives youth the opportunity to exchange their ideas and knowledge with their peers and sustainability experts, while developing their ideation, design thinking, interpersonal communication, and public speaking skills. From this year’s winning teams, we once again saw creativity at work in the solutions for food tech, packaging, and textile in the hospitality sector, including the world’s first recyclable disposable slippers, dried fruits upcycled from ‘ugly’ fruits, and more.
This summer, GREEN Hospitality also launched a one-week GREEN Leadership Academy workshop for students aged 10-16 years as part of our youth empowerment goals. An inaugural programme targeting youth in secondary school, the workshop “Eco-Warriors at Work - An Insight into Food and Waste” enabled students to explore the sustainability challenges in the food industry and waste management, investigate best practices globally and locally, and engage in creativity and critical thinking on personal and collective contributions to a more sustainable future. We are delighted to see the 25 students joining the bespoke classes, participating in debates while practising leadership skills and gaining awareness of the various aspects of sustainability. Also currently in our pipeline are STEM workshops for students to understand more the science, biology, and technology aspects of sustainability. If you are an educator who would like to collaborate with us to nurture the next generation of sustainability leaders, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
GREEN's student internship programme, the summer 2022 cohort.
In the years since we started our internship and educational programmes to help youth comprehend the interdisciplinarity of sustainability, it has never ceased to excite us whenever we see the power of empowered youth. If you are passionate about creating positive change, join our student internship programme to gain real work experience to pave your future career in various sustainability fields. Before you go, read this interview with one of our past interns on how her internship at GREEN motivated her to become a young leader of positive impact here.