The Green Economy has seen rapid developments in the sustainability space. Examples of climate mitigation efforts include:
(i) the well-established Green Mark certifications for energy-efficient and sustainable buildings1;
(ii) rapid deployment of solar energy systems and floating solar farms to enable Singapore’s clean energy transition2;
(iii) progressive adoption and deployment of electric vehicles and charging stations for private owners and public transport fleets3; and
(iv) mandatory climate-related disclosure (CRD) requirements for listed firms, which will be progressively implemented4 beginning financial year 2025.
Various government agencies are focusing on efforts in climate adaptation, such as coastal protection, improved flood responses through the use of technologies and digitised climate modelling to predict long-term weather and sea-level patterns impacting Singapore.
The local workforce must be equipped with sector- and function-specific green skills needed in emerging sectors, and transferable green skills applicable across sectors and job functions.
A. High Demand Growth
These skills tend to be more niche and in emerging sectors.
Examples of Skills:
- Urban Farming Business Development and Management
- Carbon Markets and Decarbonisation Strategies
- Sustainability Risk Management
B. High Demand Growth
These skills are highly transferable, applicable across sectors and job functions and are sought after by employers.
Examples of Skills:
- Environmental and Social Governance
- Carbon Footprint Management
- Sustainable Manufacturing
C. Moderate Demand Growth
These skills tend to be in niche, emerging areas and/or are already well-established.
Examples of Skills:
- Sustainability Reporting
- Solar Photovoltaic System Designs
- Sustainable Landscape Design
D. Moderate Demand Growth
These skills are consistently needed across sectors and job functions
Examples of Skills:
- Energy Management and Audit
- Sustainability Management
- Sustainable Engineering
- Cross-sector and cross-functional skills continue to see high transferability with moderate to high demand growth from 2019 to 2022. These skills are consistently sought after by employers across job functions and sectors. These skills include Environment and Social Governance, Carbon Footprint Management and Energy Management and Audit.
Green skills growth is consistent in the last two years, with high demand in emerging areas like agrifood, sustainable finance and carbon management
- Skills in emerging areas such as agrifood, sustainable finance and carbon management experienced high demand growth in the past two years. The emergence of the Green Economy created a demand for professionals with the skills needed in green financial structuring, carbon management and services. Furthermore, efforts are ongoing to build up a technology-enabled agrifood sector and workforce to meet Singapore’s 30-by-30 food security target5 progressively.
- Green skills supporting the urban green environment show moderate demand growth and transferability across sectors. Examples of these skills include Green Building Strategy Implementation and Green Facilities Management. The built environment sector has accelerated the push for greater sustainability outcomes through smart building technologies, resource conservation, enhancing buildings’ resilience to climate change and healthier urban environments. Simultaneously, skills such as Climate-mitigating Features in Built Environment are being sought after with enhanced emphasis in the latest Green Mark 20216.
- Environmental and Social Governance (ESG), Carbon Footprint Management and Sustainable Manufacturing are the fastest-growing skills in the Green Economy.
Three highly transferable green skills across sectors and job functions are seeing high growth momentum
- ESG is the most transferable skill and is required by more than 500 unique job roles in 2022. Individuals with ESG skills can support their organisations by incorporating ESG principles within compliance, business operations and service and product offerings. Job roles include: internal auditors, business valuation managers and product managers.
- Carbon Footprint Management and Sustainable Manufacturing are skills related to implementing and managing sustainability strategies and ESG goals within business operations, products and service offerings. Job functions include: process engineering, operations and maintenance, and manufacturing. Job roles include: energy engineers, compliance advisory managers, operations and maintenance managers and engineering procurement managers.
- From 2025, climate-related disclosures (CRD) requirements will be progressively implemented for listed firms7. It is foreseen that skills related to sustainable finance and carbon management will be increasingly sought-after by employers.
Compliance requirements pushed the demand for skills in sustainable finance, carbon management, decarbonisation and sustainability risk management
- Carbon Accounting, Carbon Markets and Decarbonisation Strategies Management and Sustainability Risk Management are examples of such skills. Job roles include: finance managers, compliance advisory managers and risk analysts.
- As operations in environment, health and safety (EHS), process engineering, marine and maintenance transit to more sustainable practices. Job roles include: EHS specialists, marine engineers, marine consultants and operations and maintenance managers.
As we stand at the intersection of climate change and corporate accountability, businesses
must not only embrace sustainable practices but also be transparent about their
Sustainability development is one of our key national agenda under the Singapore Green Plan 2030. Earlier this year, ACRA and the Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo) launched a public consultation on the recommendations by the Sustainability Reporting Advisory Committee (SRAC) to advance climate reporting in Singapore7. As we embark on this journey, Singapore will need to build a strong talent pool of sustainability reporting professionals across businesses and professional services firms.
A 2022 study showed that sustainability reporting is among the top professional services that large corporates and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are requesting from accounting practices in Singapore8 This rising demand for sustainability reporting presents new opportunities for accounting and finance professionals in Singapore. With the proposed adoption of mandatory reporting as recommended by the SRAC, the number of accounting entities and workforce providing sustainability-related services are expected to triple by 20259.
Accounting professionals will play a crucial role in reporting on businesses’ sustainability performance to stakeholders, with existing job scopes expected to expand to include sustainability-related responsibilities such as assurance. This would mean that new skills in green financing, Sustainability Risk Management, carbon markets and credit need to be acquired to take on the enlarged role10. New job roles such as ESG specialists11 and ESG managers12are also expected to emerge and support businesses to implement and review their sustainability agenda.
In line with this, a dedicated working group under the Green Skills Committee, led by ACRA and Enterprise Singapore, has been set-up to develop a skills plan for sustainability reporting and assurance. In addition, ACRA is also committed to support and work with professional bodies and industry stakeholders on capability and capacity building efforts to equip professionals with the requisite sustainability reporting and assurance skill sets, thus enabling businesses and individuals to reap opportunities in the Green Economy.
7 ACRA website – “Public Consultation on Turning
Climate Ambition into Action in Singapore”
8 ACCA and Singapore Accountancy Commission. (2022). Market Demand for Professional Accountancy Services in Singapore: FY2021-2024
9 Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority. (2023). AE Census 2022
10 Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants, Singapore Management University, Singapore Accountancy Commission, Ernst & Young. (2022). Sustainability: Jobs and Skills for the Accountancy Profession.
11 WSG website – “Manpower study of Singapore-based accounting practices”
12 WSG website – “Study on in-house Finance and Accounting functions”
The science of sustainability planning
Kanni Elango is not only the AVP of Finance and HR at her workplace, she is also an advocate for sustainable practices, both at home where she encourages recycling with her family, and at work where she develops production plans and sustainability reports that reduce wastage for her company.
From day-to-day management to future planning
Before stepping into her current role, Kanni was doing managerial finance for the organisation. According to her, it was a role that “involved managing day-to-day situations”. Of her present role, Kanni says, “Now, my work also involves research and planning. There’s more forward-thinking because of the emphasis on production control and waste reduction, which lies at the heart of the company’s sustainability efforts.”
Benefits of planning with sustainability in mind
Elaborating, Kanni tells us, “Since 2018, our company has been placing a greater emphasis on sustainability. During this time, we developed and implemeneted our company logistics plan, or CLP. This plan details when we order supplies, how much we order, how packaging is done, and other aspects of the production chain.”
The benefits of comprehensive production planning is already paying off. Since implementing their CLP, wastage has been reduced by 15%, making the new process better for the environment, and healthier for their balance sheet.
Acquiring key sustainability skills
Planning these processes and preparing sustainability reports does require specific sets of skills; expertise that Kanni needed to acquire for the role.
To acquire these skills, Kanni’s employer enrolled her in the Career Conversion Programme (CCP) for Sustainability Professionals funded by Workforce Singapore (WSG). Kanni also embarked on a mix of self-learning and company-sponsored training. Among the courses she attended were a SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) funded course to pick up the HR-related skills needed for her present role, and an ISO Audit Report course where she learnt how to prepare internal audits
Her collegues have been helpful too, often sharing related news articles, brochures, and other sustianbility-related resources with her.
Kanni highlights Sustainability Reporting, Sustainability Risk Management, Sustainability Management, and Carbon Footprint Management as the top skills needed in her role.
Advice for moving into a sustainability-focused role
What would Kanni say to fellow mid-career professionals thinking of making a change? She advises, “If you feel like you’re getting bored of the same work and are slowing down as a result, change could be just what you need! Welcome change, charge yourself up, and give 100% to your role and you’ll have a fulfilling career.”
What determines a career path: Your qualifications or your passions?
Tanya Sng has always had a soft spot for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues – whether it is protecting our environment, helping children, or other ESG-related matters.
Having studied accounting and law in university, Tanya decided that finance would be the area she was best qualified for and joined the financial firm, Ernst & Young (EY), immediately after graduation.
Moving into a sustainability-focused role
After beginning her career as a financial auditor, Tanya transitioned to transactions advisory and internal finance roles with the firm, before deciding to shift her career direction. “While financial roles seemed like a natural choice with my qualifications,” Tanya shared, “I’ve always been interested in the social aspects of what organisations do.”
With this in mind, Tanya took on her current role as a director with EY’s climate change and sustainability services team. In this position, she advises EY’s clients on matters that are near and dear to her heart,
including climate change and sustainability-related matters, such as clients’ sustainability frameworks, ESG reporting and decarbonisation efforts..
An essential suite of skills for the green economy
Tanya points to Carbon Footprint Management, Environment and Social Governance, Sustainability Management, Sustainability Reporting, Sustainability Risk Management, Energy Management and Audit, Carbon Accounting, as well as Carbon Markets and Decarbonisation Strategies Management as a complementary set of skills that she believes are crucial for professionals in her position.
Tanya explains how these skills enable professionals like her to properly advise clients on sustainability reporting. “Having a skills gap could mean that you’re not aware of certain regulations – and this could result in our clients not setting proper baselines and monitoring standards, which could impact them negatively. As consultants in the Green Economy, we must have the skills and knowledge to offer advice covering all the bases.”
The various paths to acquiring skills
Tanya takes a multi-pronged approach to learning, and is thankful for the support provided by her employer. “Within EY, there’s a comprehensive learning curriculum that’s curated by the learning and development (L&D) department.” She explains, “We can take up self-paced learning via e-learning modules, or sign up for relevant courses and accreditations.”
With her mindset of constant improvement driving her, Tanya has already acquired several key accreditations to build her capabilities. These include the GARP Sustainability and Climate Risk (SCR) certificate, GRI Certified Sustainability Professional, and the IFRS Foundation Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting (FSA) Credential.
Before leaping into a new career
Sharing her thoughts with other professionals looking to make a passion-based career switch, Tanya says, “First, gain clarity into whether your desired role really encompasses what you envisioned. Network with individuals already in the role, ask them about the pros and cons of the career, the key skills needed, and more.
“Once you’ve decided to make the move, be proactive in building up your knowledge and skills to prepare yourself for success in your new role!”
We greatly appreciate your feedback on the report here.