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Sustainable Citizens: The Future of Work is Green
Although the pandemic has been the mammoth challenge of the past two years, there is another threat that continues to push us closer to the brink of planetary emergency: climate change.

Photo by Alena Koval from Pexels

And in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, we learnt just how inextricably linked public health and the environment are. Recent research shows that almost all pandemics have been zoonotic—that is, caused by animal microbes that spilled over to people as human settlements and wildlife habitats increasingly overlapped.  This means that rapidly expanding cities and places with accelerated deforestation are especially vulnerable to future pandemics.

To heal both the economy and the environment, many are calling for a “green recovery.” This could generate about 30 million jobs in Southeast Asia.  In Singapore, a number of these green jobs will be in the built environment sector, which has seen significant development in recent years driven by technological innovation and strong policies that envision a more sustainable future.

Job-seekers should take note: the future of work will look greener and greener as the world realises that there can be no true recovery without sustainability.

Green Recovery

Simply put, a green recovery is a way to improve both environmental outcomes and economic outcomes post-pandemic. It entails integrating sustainability into recovery plans and seeing the crisis as an opportunity to not just go back to the way things were, but to do better.   

This is particularly important in Southeast Asia. In the region, a green recovery is crucial to generating millions of jobs, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, increasing competitiveness, mitigating and adapting to climate change impacts, and lowering the risk of future pandemics.  

In Singapore, the green industry is expected to create 4,000 “new and upgraded jobs” in 2021 and 55,000 more over the next decade, according to Minister Grace Fu of the Ministry for Sustainability and Environment (MSE).  These will be created as the country reimagines urban planning, mobility, and growth using fewer resources and with lower carbon emissions. Green financing and developing sustainable infrastructure across Asia are also a priority for Singapore, said Minister Grace.

Meaningful Work in a Promising Industry

Because the green built environment is a relevant yet relatively nascent sector, those interested in a career in this area can expect a lot of exciting opportunities for growth. It is also a career path paved with purpose, offering not just financial rewards but also a chance to help build a better, greener world.

As Singapore pursues sustainable development in the post-pandemic era, it will need a workforce skilled in planning and building smart cities, green buildings, and sustainable infrastructure. It will also require expertise in urban farming, advanced agriculture and aquaculture technology, and environmental sanitation and waste management, among other “green collar” jobs. Within these areas, there are also a variety of roles including food hygiene officers, operations or project managers,  researchers, and scientists.

Clearly, there is something for everyone. The doors are open even to those without an architecture or engineering background, which are regarded as the traditional educational entryways to the sector.

The combined skills and specialisations of these sustainability-focused citizens will help the country achieve its green targets, as outlined in the Green Plan 2030 

The built environment figures prominently in Singapore's sustainability thrust. This is evident in many of the Green Plan’s targets: more green spaces and parks near where people live; creating greener communities by maximising mass transport, building more cycling paths, and expanding rail networks; increasing the energy efficiency of buildings and infrastructure; ensuring food security by developing land and sea space; and moderating heat levels in the city by using cool paint and increasing greenery.

With this growing support for greening the built environment, it is easy to see why the sector is poised for massive growth.

Photo by Armin Rimoldi from Pexels

Innovations in Green Buildings, Enabling Policies

Singapore has several green buildings including those that house universities, public transport services, offices, residential spaces, and waste and water treatment facilities. Innovations in circular design principles, green technologies, and the use of recycled materials form the foundations of these sustainable structures.  

These innovations include “green construction” practices, which make use of timber harvested from forests that are sustainably managed, or concrete made out of recycled concrete aggregates from demolished structures and construction waste.

Passive design strategies, such as those that improve natural ventilation, thermal insulation, and solar shading,  also help minimise energy use and carbon emissions.

Many buildings also incorporate a lot of greenery—on facades and roofs, for instance—to minimise urban heat island effects.

In Tuas Nexus, the nation’s first integrated water and solid waste treatment facility, electricity generated by the waste-to-energy process could power other parts of the facility, and the excess could be exported to the grid.

Smart sockets and sensors also promise to optimise the Housing and Development Board’s Punggol Northshore Residences for livability and sustainability.

There is a crucial element tying all these innovations together and making green industries possible in Singapore: an enabling environment through strategic policies and incentives.  The Green Plan and the BCA Green Mark,  for instance, are just some of the policies and certifications that help nurture a greener built environment.

Photo by Martin Péchy from Pexels

Whether you’re a graduating student or an experienced young professional, there are plenty of opportunities for you in the Green sector. Built environment is one area to lookout for. And as the world fully embraces sustainability, this space will become even more popular.

Keen to be a part of the Green Future? Find out more at LIT DISCOvery 2021 (27 - 30 July)!

To learn more about what skills are in demand and how to get into this sector, as well as meet green industry experts and leaders, join the green-themed topics that will be tabled during LIT DISCOvery 2021 on 29 July.

LIT DISCOvery 2021 is a four-day virtual symposium and marketplace organised by Young NTUC, powered by National Youth Council and in collaboration with SkillsFuture month. Happening from 27 - 30 July, it features keynotes from industry leaders, masterclasses, mentorships, career profiling, networking, featured job vacancies, and access to career resources for graduating students, professionals, managers, and executives.

Ready to start building a greener future for yourself and the planet? Register HERE