A skill is the ability to do something well, it is expertise at its peak. Green skills is the knowledge, ability, and attitude towards our environment, needed to address environmental challenges. There are so many challenges of the environment facing us in the world today, example; deforestation, pollution, climate change, unclean surroundings.
These issues require sustainable solutions and the development of a greener workforce, which are crucial for creating a sustainable world, a world that our present needs can be met without comprising the needs of future generations.
Green skills are required for the world to be sustainable; the knowledge of waste reduction, recycling, and waste-to-energy technologies are crucial for creating a circular economy, minimising waste, and resource conservation in the society; the knowledge of conservation techniques, ecological restoration, and sustainable resource management is vital for protecting biodiversity and ecosystem services; skills related to related to the design, installation, and maintenance of renewable energy systems, such as solar panels and wind turbines are required, these will contribute to reducing the reliance on fossil fuels which chips at the ozone layer; skills such as organic farming and organic aquaculture are also required, as it is important for sustainable food production, also in reducing the environmental impact of agriculture; in considering naturally occurring ecosystems and promoting food security.
The youthful stage is the period between childhood and adulthood, the Nigerian Youth Policy (2009) defines youth as between 18-35 years. However, the 2019 National Youth Policy has changed the classification, by the new policy; a youth in Nigeria is a person between 18-29 years that is why National Youth Service Corps is limited to graduates under the age of 30 years. Statistically, several entities, instruments and regional organisations have somewhat different definitions of youth, which the United Nations secretariat recognises. The following table summarises these differences:
|United Nations Secretariat/United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation/International Labour Organisation||Youth: 15-24||United Nation Instruments, Statistics|
|United Nations Habitat (Youth Fund)||Youth 15-32||Agenda 21|
|United Nations International Children Emergency Fund/World Health Organisation/United Nations Population Fund||Adolescent: 10-19, Young People: 10-24, Youth: 15-24||United Nations Population Fund|
|United Nations International Children Emergency Fund/The Convention on Rights of the Child||Child until 18||United Nations International Children Emergency Fund|
|The African Youth Charter||Youth: 15-35||African Union, 2006|
Definition of youth changes with circumstances, especially with the changes in demographic, financial, economic and socio-cultural settings; however, the definition that uses 15- 24 age cohort as youth fairly serves its statistical purposes for assessing the needs of the young people and providing guidelines for youth development. Youth can also be defined as a particular mindset and attitude. A youth can be a positive force for development when provided with the knowledge and opportunities they need to thrive.
The shift towards an environmentally sustainable and climate-friendly world is critical. If the youth have green skills, it will bring about entrepreneurship; as the youth is empowered to develop innovative solutions to environmental problems, thereby fostering economic growth. The transition towards a greener economy brings about employment opportunities, thereby creating new job opportunities in sectors such as waste management, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, which provides the youth with valuable career prospects. With green skills, the youth is resilient and able to adapt and mitigate the impacts of climate change and ensure a sustainable future. Youth participation and empowerment are key drivers of sustainable development in the world.
The processes for the youth to internalise green skills are numerous, there needs to be skill development initiatives, education reforms and training programs. Non-governmental organisations, governments and businesses should collaborate to provide skill development programs that offer internships, apprenticeships, and mentorship opportunities for the youth to gain practical experience in green industries. Governments and educational institutions should prioritise integrating green skills into education systems, from primary schools to universities, by revising curricula and incorporating sustainability value and principles. Training programs that are vocational in nature should be in existence, there should be focus on green skills that can equip youth with practical knowledge and technical expertise required in various green sectors.
There are challenges to these processes: The lack of awareness of the youth, who are unaware of the importance of green skills and the potential career opportunities in green sectors. There is limited access to training, as some youth may not have access to adequate training facilities or funds to pursue green skills training. There is resistance to change from traditional industries and skeptical attitudes towards sustainability, which hinders the adoption of green skills. There is also the challenge, the fast pace of technological advancements bring, it requires learning additional continuous skills and adaptation to new changes. All these challenges can be solved by the following:
- Awareness campaigns and information dissemination can help overcome the lack of awareness.
- Governments and organizations should subsidise or provide scholarships to ensure equal access for all for training to gain green skills.
- Advocacy and support from government, non-governmental organisation and renowned entrepreneurs can counter the resistance to change and promote a transition towards a greener economy.
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