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embracing sustainability to get ahead in your career.



With it being International Forest Day today, a blog on sustainability and how you can kick on in your career by adopting green credentials seems quite apt. 

Commerce and industry have accepted and, in many cases, welcomed the green imperatives that have been forced on them by the critical dangers of climate change, deforestation, carbon emissions, pollution and agricultural inefficiencies. Amongst the general public, there is only limited knowledge or appreciation of the measures which some businesses are already taking. The objective is to reduce carbon emissions to net zero, to expand the use of recyclable material and to adopt new models of sustainability without hindering the growth of trade and the prosperity of nations.

Businesses are changing their behaviour because they know it is right for the planet and also because it is good for business. Consumers care about how their food and goods are produced and will happily give their business to responsible companies. Candidates for jobs, particular among younger workers, will rarely even consider joining a company with a reputation as a polluter or an obstacle to social justice.

But in this enlightened and healthy business environment, what can candidates themselves do in terms of environmental sustainability to further their careers? It's not simply a question of what their employers can do for them but of what they can do for their employers.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has produced a document called GEO-6 for Youth, which is aimed at young people to advise them on the best sustainable career choices and the skills they will need to prosper in the rapidly growing green industries. While the guide might be of most use to those still at school, contemplating their A Level choices, there is a lot of very helpful content for those already in the world of work who are busy trying to write their own future.

Among the industries identified as needing new green skills are agriculture, architecture, construction, civil engineering, science and teaching. However, the World Economic Forum's Davos Labs Youth Recovery Plan in 2021 found that a high percentage of young people felt insufficiently skilled and in the same forum's 2020 Future of Jobs Report, employers reported that 40% of their workers would need to be reskilled.

One of the biggest challenges arising from this is that many of the jobs we'll need don't yet exist, so it becomes essential to anticipate the materialisation of those jobs by upskilling now.

The new green economy will need specialist workers with a strong background in science who can be the environmental scientists, hydrologists, biochemists and biologists of tomorrow. They will play a crucial role in the management of land, water and other natural resources.

As construction methods and finished buildings become more innovative and energy-efficient, planners and architects will be needed who can ensure compliance with increasingly ambitious environmental regulations as well as client demands for sustainable solutions and green spaces.

Engineering skills will be essential in providing cost-effective, reliable renewable energy; agriculture will rely more heavily on data analytical abilities and systems analysts will be in demand to assess processes against performance indicators and to improve operations.

The humanities will also have a considerable role to play as the future of the global economy will need workers with the necessary environmental justice skills. They will work at the intersection between human and environmental rights in preventing the mistakes of the past which allowed racial and social injustice to flourish alongside poor environmental and social health.

Jobs in the green economy will be created in their millions. Candidates can make choices now about the advanced skills they should develop, the disciplines they should study and the long-term contribution they feel best suited to make. Before very long those skills will be in demand when employers facing serious questions about sustainability look to their younger workers for the answers.

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