Professional services cut across a wide range of sectors and include areas such as consulting, financial planning, recruitment, HR, law, advertising, and auditing. These specialised services provide support to other businesses in the form of advice or intangible products.
Consultancies provide expert advice and recommendations on a particular area to clients (either individuals or organisations). Consultancy organisations, which range from small to large, employ consultants to work with external parties.
There are consultants across numerous areas of business, including management, strategy, operations and IT. Consultancies range from freelancers to small and large organisations. Sometimes, organisations will have consulting departments in-house.
In consulting, you often see both generalists and specialists, and this is also the case when looking at roles in sustainability and the environment. A generalist will typically cover multiple issues and may bring in a specialist for a particular piece of work. A specialist would focus on a particular area, such as water, waste or ecology – they focus on a single issue within the wider environmental space.
Some consultancies will focus on a specific issue and will be the experts in that work. Others will employ both specialists and generalists. In addition, some consultants will have sector-specific expertise, due to experience in a certain industry, construction for example. If you are a generalist, it doesn’t mean you can’t specialise at some point in your career; it all depends on the role, experience and who you are working for.
The importance of going green in consultancy
The UK is currently embarking on an unprecedented scale of economic change, refocusing our previously carbon-intensive industrial, energy and transport sectors to greener, decarbonised alternatives. The scale of change is huge but necessary if the government is to achieve its aim of net zero by 2050. As a result, all consultants, across different industries, should consider how their work and advice impacts the environment, weaving sustainability into everything they do.
More specifically, environmental consulting is a growing area, particularly in terms of supporting the uptake of new and emerging technologies. Work predominantly takes place within the UK planning and regulatory systems, helping clients to comply with statutory and planning requirements and supporting the protection of the environment and local communities. A career in environmental consultancy involves researching, assessing and advising on a wide range of environmental subjects to support project development.
In 2030 across England there could be as many as 694,000 direct jobs employed in the low-carbon and renewable energy economy, rising to over 1.18 million by 2050
In the UK there are thousands of consultants working on environment and sustainability, with 7,200 more environment and sustainability specialists required by 2025
Close to 28 million residences and the locations of 6 million companies must modify the way they use energy to meet net zero by 2050 in the UK
RSK Group is an engineering environmental consultancy, delivering in sustainable solutions.
IEMA is the membership body for environment and sustainability professionals