Market Trends: Sustainability


Sustainability Recruitment - Market Trends


The sustainability industry covers a multitude of different sectors, with an array of different career paths available to candidates from all backgrounds. Accordingly, employers range from international blue chip investment firms to boutique environmental consultancies, with employment opportunities across the engineering, agricultural, fashion, manufacturing, real estate and environmental markets to name but a few.

From an employability perspective each market has its own nuances and trends, however, at Mattinson Partnership we’ve seen some overarching themes emerging over the last twelve months within the sustainability sector.


The Sustainability sector is a “job led market”

In comparison to the other disciplines across the built and natural environment that we recruit into, including building services, town planning and environment, the sustainability sector is currently a “job led market”. This means that there are fewer vacancies than there are candidates looking for new positions. This is not to say that the market is particularly slow moving, or that companies are not hiring as there certainly is significant activity; but when compared to the environmental sector which is currently more project driven, (HS2, Crossrail etc.) there simply isn’t the same volume of opportunities. This coupled with the fact that it is an increasingly desirable sector to work in has resulted in a “job led market”.


High quality of entry level candidates

The calibre of entry level sustainability candidates is exceptionally high, with the majority of successful junior candidates holding an MSc from a top university, probably having achieved a Distinction and having also undertaken a selection of internships. Accordingly, I have found that candidates with outstanding academics but limited work experience have struggled to secure employment. Although often challenging for applicants to gain a foothold, it is undoubtedly positive that the sector is attracting such high quality talent.


Consistent demand for analytical candidates

Sustainability reporting remains an integral part of so many markets, and has continued to grow pervasively over the last twelve months. Consequently the demand for candidates with outstanding quantitative analysis skills has remained consistent within my client base.


Reasons candidates are looking to move on

Alongside the non-sector specific reasons that candidates cite for looking to move on, i.e. an increase in salary and greater “career progression”, a significant proportion of candidates that I speak to identify “their employers engagement with sustainability”, or lack of it, as  a primary motivator for looking to move on. This is not endemic to a particular market, but a theme across the sustainability sector from the built environment to the natural environment, consultancy to client side; the wider organisations appetite for sustainability directly impacts staff retention.


Are the industry trends mirrored in recruitment?

Perhaps two of the most notable themes to develop over the last twelve months within the industry are the circular economy and the continued rise of Health & Wellbeing. One could be forgiven for assuming that these emerging trends would be directly linked to organisations’ recruitment growth plans, but this isn’t necessarily the case, at least not directly.

Although a small number of companies have hired dedicated consultants in both Health & wellbeing and circular economy, , it appears most organisations have opted to train and develop staff internally in these areas. It is worth noting that in many instances organisations have slightly widened the parameters of the desirable skillset when recruiting to include an emerging trend, e.g. a Sustainability Consultant role focussing on environmental assessments may now include “WELL” experience as a desired attribute. As the trends become more integrated within the industry, no doubt there will be more direct recruitment in line with this but for now you might find yourself with a few additional responsibilities!



I joined Mattinson Partnership in the autumn of 2015, with a keen curiosity in sustainability having graduated from Newcastle University in 2013 with a BA in Geography. I have a genuine interest in the industry and I am motivated by finding the best professionals and partnering them with the array of leading organisations that I support. When I'm not in the office I enjoy surfing, skiing and downhill mountain biking.


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London Wildlife Trust.

We are proud partners of The London Wildlife Trust, a charity dedicated to protecting the wildlife and wild spaces of London by driving environmental projects throughout the city. Our team often get involved at ground level in Wild Workdays by helping to maintain and restore treasured spaces and land… we love to get our hands dirty! We also run multiple interactive workshops, providing their conservation trainees with invaluable career advice and insights into the environmental sector to prepare them for employment. Most recently, we worked with young people taking part in their Keeping it Wild programme, which engages young people from backgrounds currently under-represented in nature conservation.

Royal Town Planning Institute.

The RTPI represents planning professionals in the UK and Ireland and aims to encourage the development of vibrant and prosperous places and communities. Our Senior Consultant Freddie enthusiastically attends the annual Planning Convention, and we host several events throughout the year to show our support, including drinks networking and a literal pub quiz. We also keep in close contact with our friends down under, at the Planning Institute Australia and New Zealand Planning Institute. In addition, we sponsor the London Planning Summit, an event designed to address the biggest challenges facing the industry. This is our opportunity to stay on top of the latest changes in town planning by meeting with other key professionals in the sector, while celebrating our achievements.

Land Securities Group Plc.

One of our clients, LandSec, are the clever people behind Girls Can Do It Too, an initiative designed to encourage girls to consider a career in construction. Currently, only 11% of the construction workforce are female, and LandSec are attempting to increase this number by providing education and engagement projects and workshops for girls aged 11-13. Featuring workshops on demolition and tower building, as well as challenging the girls to design a planning project of their own (with a focus on budgeting and environmental considerations), LandSec have proven their dedication to addressing the need for diversity in this very male dominated industry. Ruth assists the project by sharing her fascinating insights into the industry and is even on the project judging panel!

Urban Land Institute.

In partnership with Urban Land Institute we are able to play an imperative role in creating a larger and more diverse pool of candidates within the planning & property professions. Working in schools we take part in the Urban Plan Educational workshops programme, which has now reached more than 2,500 pupils in 100 schools since its launch. Alongside more than 200 industry volunteers engaged across the country, we provide invaluable industry & careers advice to students while guiding them through their workshops and helping judge their presentations.

Carbon Footprint.

Carbon FootprintTM works to help organisations offset their CO2 through tree planting and community projects worldwide. By partnering with Carbon FootprintTM, we have planted native trees and shrubs such as Whitebeam, Hazel, Field Maple, Silver Birch, Rowan, Beech, Blackthorn, Holly and Dog Rose to create a Mattinson Forest that spreads across South East England. Carbon FootprintTM work in conjunction with the Florestal Santa Maria Project (FSM-Redd Project), designed to reduce deforestation in the Amazonian Rainforest. So, for every tree we plant in the UK we guarantee a tonne of CO₂ offset in Brazil too. Carbon FootprintTM have allowed us to not only do our bit for the environment but also commemorate moments of growth for our clients and candidates.