Effective environmental performance is paramount for businesses today to operate competitively in the global marketplace. Companies recognise the value of sustainability to underpin organisational strategy and this brings a need for environmental skills in the workforce at all levels. More companies of all sizes across all sectors are upskilling their workforce with the appropriate qualifications and/or employing more environmentalists to manage and implement environmental and sustainability objectives. Sustainability will be a significant element of any job regardless of the sector, affecting office workers to engineers.
Achieving Environmental Compliance
As the volume of environmental legislation and regulations increases companies are faced with the challenge of achieving compliance: for example over half of businesses are still not complying with waste law or failing to achieve the basics on energy efficiency, the demand for environmental and sustainability professionals is continually growing.
More Jobs in the Environmental Sector
Based on the growing business demands, it is forecast that 1.3 million people will be working in green jobs by 2017. Despite the growth in jobs in the environmental sector, competition is still intense and more people are taking environmental qualifications. NEBOSH Jobs’ Barometer surveys over recent years have revealed that 39% of health and safety management roles advertised also requested responsibilities for environmental management.
Let’s take a look at a career in the environment and sustainability based on data from the 2016 IEMA survey completed by 1,000 IEMA members worldwide.
This survey revealed an overriding number of positive factors for people in the environmental and sustainability profession.
82% of IEMA members are either highly or moderately satisfied in their job. This is the highest percentage ever recorded for this group and surpasses the 77.6% of the general working population who consider themselves satisfied at work, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Well Recompensed with Salaries Rising
In 2015 the average earnings of an environment and sustainability professional reached £38,180, with the average being £43,812. This surpasses the national average wage of £27,600 of comparable professions reported by the Office for National Statistics in November 2015; the survey participants have received a pay increase in the past 12 months.
Unsurprisingly, the survey revealed that people with high qualifications and considerable experience are more likely to be rewarded financially. Graduates and career changers can expect to earn around £24,500, £500 up from the previous year and on par with other graduate roles within industries in which environment and sustainability professionals’ work such as energy, engineering and industrial, construction, public sector and consultancy.
Gender Pay Gap
It’s not all good news however. A closer look at the statistics shows a gap in pay between male and female workers. Although younger women tend to earn slightly more than their male counterparts in the early years of employment, this changes after the age of 25 where the gap in earnings widened last year to £7,000, equating to a 16.7% pay gap. This is still a smaller gap than the UK average of 20%.
Well Qualified Professionals Continually Developing
The survey also revealed that 93% have higher academic qualifications comprising:
- 55% with a Masters or Doctorate
- 38% with at least a Bachelor’s degree or other post graduate qualifications
Evidently a large number of environmental practitioners are keen to develop their knowledge and skills in environmental management to further their career. As in all professions Continuing Professional Development (CPD) plays a key part in knowledge and skills development. In 2015, 91% of the IEMA survey participants undertook CPD.
The commitment of environmental professions to their development and career will inevitably have a positive impact on organisational environmental performance from reducing energy use, to cutting general and carbon emissions backed up in the survey.
The positive factors outlined have encouraged over a third of practitioners (with over 5 years’ experience) to promote their profession to others i.e. graduates and career changers highlighting this rewarding career is where practitioners can make a difference.
Not a bad recommendation for the environment and sustainability as an attractive career choice.
IEMA Survey 2016
Get more detailed information on the IEMA survey report here
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