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.