Generic Green Skills

Generic green skills include general knowledge, skills, attitudes and values and they are necessary for contributing to sustainable social, economic and environmental development in any job. The development of generic green skills is important for the greening of all industries, as they enable a person to develop a green mindset and adopt generic operational practices that minimize environmental impacts.

Dr Margarita Pavlova (2014) has classified generic green skills into the following three categories:

  • Cognitive competencies (for example, environmental awareness and a willingness to learn about sustainable development, systems and risk analysis, skills to assess, interpret and understand both the need for  change and the measures required, innovation skills to identify opportunities and create new strategies to respond to green challenges;)
  • Interpersonal competencies (for example, coordination, management and business skills to facilitate holistic and interdisciplinary approaches that encompass economic, social and ecological objectives, communication and negotiation skills for discussion of conflicting interests in complex contexts, marketing skills to promote greener products and services)
  • Intrapersonal competencies (adaptability and transferable skills that help workers learn and apply new technologies and processes required to green their jobs, entrepreneurial skills to capture opportunities presented by low-carbon technologies)

Generic green skills identified through this classification system align with the key competencies or 'soft' skills that employers already know are crucial for a modern workforce, but importantly, they are also contextualized within the perspective of environmental awareness and an understanding of sustainable development.

The second approach, proposed by a study conducted by Per Capita (2010), suggests the following list of generic green skills (related to environmentally friendly processes that are similar across different sectors):

  • Quantification and monitoring (waste, energy, water)
  • Management systems (waste, energy, water)
  • Procurement and selection
  • Material use and impact quantification
  • Impact and use minimisation
  • Impact assessment
  • Risk management

These generic skills, in relation to 'green processes', have been included by Dr Margarita Pavlova (2015a) as a second set of generic green skills (labelled technological competencies) in her classification.

The four categories of generic green skills [click for the list]:  cognitive competencies, technological competencies, interpersonal competencies, and intrapersonal competencies form the backbone for the resources on these webpages. They are required by each industry sector for every occupation regardless of its skill level as they enhance the core values and skills needed to better current and future conditions on our planet.

In other words, these resources will enable teachers to develop students’ much-needed generic green skills.

(Based on Pavlova, M. (2018) Fostering inclusive, sustainable economic growth and 'green' skills development in learning cities through partnerships. International Review of Education: Journal of Lifelong learning 64 (3), 339-354).

1 The term soft skills refers to interpersonal or 'people' skills. Examples include: behaving with respect (verbally and non-verbally) towards colleagues, being a good listener and being helpful. Soft skills are complemented by hard skills, which are related to job content and are acquired by formal education, apprenticeships and internships, on-the-job training etc.