With global thinking shifting towards sustainability, many businesses are being forced to play catch up to meet the increasing demand by stakeholders for ESG. The push for businesses to run sustainably has inevitably led to the surge in demand for ESG talent. While an increasing demand for ESG talent is taking place globally, this need is especially acute in Asia, where the lack of ESG talent is one of the main reasons that are keeping financial institutions and businesses from moving forward with their sustainability strategy.
Talent shortage in Asia?
Many companies are committing themselves to ESG principles and targets but despite the necessity of corporate sustainability, it’s still considered a relatively nascent field in Asia, especially given the range of skillsets required to make a measurable impact and deliver sustainable change. Earlier this year, LinkedIn published data showing that although APAC lags behind the US and Europe in hiring green jobs, the region has seen a staggering 30% growth since 2016. However, despite this growth, the supply of ESG professionals is not yet in line with the demand. Taking on a country-specific lens, many companies in Singapore continue to view the lack of sustainability expertise or talent as one of their main sustainability challenges. An NTUC LearningHub report found that while more than 90% of business leaders agreed on the importance of integrating sustainability practices into their overall strategy, 41% cited a lack of specialised talent as one of the main reasons that they do not have sustainability goals.
The demand for talent is compounded by the fact that at the public policy level, the region has ramped up its sustainability transition, with a number of governments increasing their commitment to sustainability. For example, the Singaporean government announced the Green Plan 2030 to advance the national agenda on sustainable development and to transform the city-state into a greener and more sustainable city by 2030. Across the pond, the Hong Kong government has also announced the Climate Action Plan 2050, as part of its goal to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050. With companies expected to align themselves with their respective governments’ push for sustainable transition, we’ll likely see the generation of a wealth of new jobs in the sustainability space.
What can businesses do?
The dearth of sustainability talent and the intense talent war between companies can be daunting to companies, especially those that are looking to implement sustainability practices or put in place a formal sustainability strategy. Fortunately, there are things that companies can do to address the skills gap.
For one, companies can look at ways they can empower and train leaders that can help their organisation deliver on sustainability goals that form a core of their business strategy. This often involves companies looking internally to identify opportunities to enhance their approach to ESG training and skills development among employees. At Acre, we recognise the urgent need to close this skills gap, which is why we offer leadership programmes that will focus on assessing, coaching, and training sustainability leaders in companies. By doing so, we will equip them with the right skills to be able to support their respective companies’ sustainability goals.
At the same time, companies can also look beyond their own expertise, focusing on recruiting sustainability-minded employees that will help drive their goals. At Acre, we recognise the difference that the right people can make and hence we work with companies to forge an understanding of their business goals and advise on talent solutions to get them there. Through our global network of purpose-driven professionals, we find people who can help to shape sustainability in business and connect them with ambitious organisations that will be a good match for them.
Developing the right skillsets for employees and bringing the right people into your business has never been more competitive, or more challenging. But with the right tools and strategy, companies can take their sustainability journey to the next level with the right talent to drive their goals forward.
Paddy joined Acre in 2022 to lead the expansion of the Acre business in APAC.
Originally from the UK Paddy has spent over 15 years working across multiple markets in the APAC region with relationships in the finance and commercial sectors. At Acre he is specifically aligned with the growth of the sustainable finance, impact investing and sustainable energy practice. This includes working with banks, insurers, pension funds, investment managers, private debt, equity & real-asset funds, family offices and foundations for roles which are sustainability themed and/or impact aligned as well as any sustainability and ESG related positions across all other functions.
Paddy has a BSc (Hons) in Geography from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne.