Financial firms across the country, and globally, have began sourcing 'sustainability specialists', targeting a broad spectrum of activities from deciphering net zero strategies for organisations, to dropping clients with a lack of dedication to sustainability. This demand comes ahead of the imposition of new rules around greenwashing and environmental risk.
The growing competition for 'green business experts'
As companies across the globe begin to aspire even higher, setting ambitious sustainability goals, the need for business transformation and strategic planning has soared. In came the unconventional career path of 'sustainability consulting'. Once a niche market, this has now become a part of the 'mainstream' consulting picture. It is estimated that sustainability consulting revenues have doubled since 2020. A large part of the work aims at aiding firms with the reduction of emissions, enabling them to achieve their emission reduction goals.
However, to be noted is the gap between large and small companies in terms of sustainability strategies. Large companies are typically seeking advice around general sustainability, whereas smaller companies often need initial education in order to be brought up to speed. Once a strategy is identified, these sustainability consultants offer up a variety of services- identifying climate change risks, providing firms with deeper understanding of policy changes and environmental targets, and even developing modernised business models grounded in sustainability.
Tapping into the market whilst it's hot
What has been made apparent is that as climate change becomes even more prevalent, the market for knowledgeable people who understand the depths of sustainability is hot. LinkedIn UK reported that 'sustainability manager' is the second fastest-growing job title in the country, up from seventh as of 2022. This isn't a European phenomenon either, globally the demand for sustainability skills has overtaken the supply.
One industry in particular is crying out for these employees- finance. This is due to the heightening of investor interest in environmental issues, and the introduction of stricter rules around climate risk and greenwashing. A passion for activism isn't solely enough to break into this industry however, it is vital to have a background in a corporate environment in order to be taken seriously.
A recent KPMG survey of 6,000 workers indicated that this career trend is here to stay. The younger generation of workers are already seen to be "climate quitting" for jobs that are more environmentally friendly.
The UK Government and their role in aiding the 'green skills gap'
As of 2021, the UK Government announced their net-zero strategy aims to support up to 480,000 highly skilled green jobs by 2030 by becoming 'zero carbon by 2050'. To date, a number of initiatives have already been introduced to aid the need for green talent.
The 'National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies' aims to provide training and qualifications to those who are wishing to enter the clean energy sector. Furthermore, the Government has introduced policies to promote efficient energy which are expected to create an increase in demand for skilled workers in the clean energy industry. There are also a number of trainee programmes and schemes available to equip young people with the skills to break into this sector.
Is a climate career for you?
Figuring out if a job in the industry is for you will require some thoughtful research and a little soul searching. The opportunity to play a role in offsetting climate change should be the driving factor when deciding whether to turn your passion for sustainability into a career.
Consider how your skills align with what employers in the industry are seeking from potential employees. (Review green job postings, do some research into your specific green career interests etc). Most of the hiring managers in the industry favour a range of expansive soft skills which can be easily transferable.
Think about how you want to apply the skills you have. What climate issues interest you the most? Do you have a preference of sectors? Ask yourself if you are prepared to take classes, partake in voluntary projects, or gain new certificates to close any gaps in your knowledge. Lastly, align yourself with allies in the industry, as they may be helpful as you pursue the next steps of your career. This could be LinkedIn groups on issue-specific topics or community organisations.
The urgency to tackle the climate problem indicates that there will never be a better time than now for a person passionate about the environment to begin a career in this industry.