There is no better time to be working in sustainability: green jobs are on the rise as people look to earn a living from a purpose-driven career. According to research from Bupa, Gen Z place a huge emphasis on a company’s commitments to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards. One in 3 agreed they would turn down job opportunities and 54% reported being willing to take a pay cut for the sake of ESG concerns, prioritising their mental health and ethics over their earnings.
Jobs in sustainability
By 2030 the green economy is expected to offer up to 24 million new green jobs globally. These cover a variety of sectors and there are multiple routes into the industry. ‘Every UK job has the potential to be green’ according to government backed research from the Independent Green Jobs Taskforce. As part of the green industrial revolution, it is important that recruitment in green jobs occurs across society, recruiting young talent and transitioning existing roles.
Multiple roles exist in the science and technology sector, and this will only increase as we begin to rely more on innovation and climate tech for solutions to climate change. These include working in renewable energy, environmental and climate science, resource efficiency, conservation and waste reduction, for example creating water saving technologies, smart grids and the processing of recyclable materials.
Within the built environment there are jobs in design and green construction, sustainable urban planning and transport and the adaptation of cities to the changing climate. Additionally, we need more skilled workers implementing green tech as building requirements change, for example the phase out of gas boilers in favour of heat pumps and the construction of offshore wind turbines.
In environmental protection people work in conservation, marine and animal biology, glaciology and agriculture and forestry. Due to reforestation from carbon offset schemes the demand for tree planting is rapidly increasing. Work in agriculture includes creating green food systems, adapting crops to changing weather patterns and adapting to urban farming. Many NGOs such as Greenpeace and WWF are also campaigning to protect nature, crossing into the charity sector which forms a big part of the social element to sustainability.
In the public sector there are government roles in pollution prevention, policy change in and within various departments of the UN. There are even workers in environmental law protecting people’s rights and health and it is important to note the Paris Agreement targets set by countries are legally binding. ClientEarth is an example of a charity using the power of the law to bring about environmental change.
In business there is growing responsibility for companies to use sustainability consultants and analysts to work on their supply chains, carbon footprint and future strategy. This is alongside work in sustainable finance; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); and certifications such as B Corp and ISO 14000. Even art and design play a role in inspiring people to live more sustainably.
Grain Sustainability’s promotion of green careers
Recently Madelyn participated in a panel discussion on career opportunities in sustainability at the University of West London. The event was organised in conjunction with the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (ICRS) and involved networking sessions, a discussion among the group of sustainability professionals, and a Q&A with the audience which included students, graduates, and professionals from different sectors. It was interesting to learn the various routes that had led into careers in sustainability, including via the charity sector and through roles working at the university itself, which aims to become a net-zero carbon campus by 2030. A key takeaway was that a broad range of skills can be applicable to work in sustainability and having a strong passion shown through volunteer work is often valued highly.
Earlier in the month, I spoke on a panel ‘Green careers for the future’, with Unifrog, an organisation with a positive social impact ‘helping students find their future’. My fellow panellist was Ann Finlayson from SEEd (Sustainability and Environmental Education) to an audience of teachers about different green jobs which may be of interest to their students. I talked about my work as a junior sustainability consultant and the future of the industry.
November seemed to be green careers month: Madelyn also spoke with student members of the Cambridge University Consulting Society about sustainability frameworks and careers in sustainability.
It’s exciting to see this amount of interest in green careers. Onward and upward!