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Is now a good time to reskill into the sustainability sector? 

22 Jan 2024 10 min read

Whatever industry you’re currently working in, if you have a willingness to learn new skills and a passion for sustainability, then now could be a good time to reskill into a green role.

Two people standing next to a field with wind turbines in the background. They are wearing high visibility jackets and hard hats.

Sustainability professionals are in high demand. Play your part in our future green economy and consider reskilling.

To avoid the most extreme and irreversible effects of climate change, the Paris Agreement states that global warming must not go beyond 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The global stocktake at COP28 recognised the need to transition away from fossil fuels and reduce global emissions by 43% to keep the limit of 1.5°C within reach. The stocktake also included an agreement to triple the world’s renewable energy capacity and double its energy efficiency by 2030, which would create huge job opportunities within the sustainability sector.

If you’re wondering whether now is a good time to reskill into sustainability, consider this: salaries for sustainability roles have increased by an average of 6.3% this year, considerably higher than the national average of 3.5%, and almost nine in ten sustainability employers are planning on recruiting in the next 12 months, according to Hays’ latest Salary & Recruiting Trends guide.

If you have a desire to make a difference in your career and secure a sustainability job, you’re not alone. 58% of professionals indicate that they would consider reskilling into a role in the green economy, up from 51% last year. If you believe you have the transferable skills and experience needed, this could be the perfect time to make a career change and reskill into the sustainability sector.

Woman in high-visibility jacket and hard hat walking through a warehouse
Why is now a good time to reskill into the sustainability sector?
  • There’s a growing demand for sustainability professionals
  • Employers are willing to hire and upskill professionals who don’t have all the required skills for sustainability roles
  • You could work within an organisation to tackle climate change and wider sustainability issues.

Sustainability professionals are in high demand

With climate issues high on the corporate agenda and more employers realising the importance of a strong sustainability function, professionals in the sustainability sector are in high demand. The salary guide shows that 83% of surveyed employers across the UK believe that their organisation’s commitment to sustainability issues is important, and 72% expect to have a similar or increased need for sustainability specialists and green skills in the next 12 months, compared to the previous year.

Energy/Carbon Manager is one of the most in-demand jobs for 2024, with organisations eager to improve their energy efficiency against a backdrop of fluctuating costs, and this role features in Hays’ Top Jobs report. There are also opportunities to reskill into areas like environmental management, the circular economy, corporate sustainability and sustainable buildings, which require professionals from a broad range of backgrounds.

Employers are willing to upskill staff for sustainability roles

Is a lack of specialist skills or experience stopping you from applying for sustainability jobs? It may reassure you to know that, according to the salary guide, over three-quarters (76%) of sustainability employers would consider hiring someone who doesn’t currently possess all of the necessary skills for the role, with the intention of upskilling them.

Nearly every sustainability organisation (94%) has experienced a shortage of key skills in the last year, meaning that employers must be proactive in equipping their staff with the green skills needed to enact change in the sustainability sector. Upskilling employees could involve organisations providing internal training programmes on sustainability topics, or facilitating access to more formal accredited courses, such as those provided by IEMA.

But it’s not just technical skills that are needed to succeed in a sustainability role, core soft skills are also very important. You can highlight how you’ve developed transferable skills in previous jobs, volunteering roles, side hustles or elsewhere. The salary guide reveals the five top soft skills that sustainability employers are looking for when recruiting:

  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • An ability to learn and upskill
  • An ability to adopt change
  • Coordinating well with others
  • Flexibility and adaptability.

Take an active role in protecting our planet’s future

Photo of woodland with lots of trees and sun streaming through the gap

Professionals are looking beyond salary and benefits packages when job hunting: they’re also searching for purpose, strong sustainability credentials and fulfilment. In fact, 35% of all professionals surveyed in the salary guide left their last role due to a lack of fulfilment – this was the most cited reason for leaving a job. Around three-quarters of professionals consider an organisation’s commitment to sustainability to be an important factor when searching for a new role.

If you’re looking for a job that will allow you to take an active role in tackling climate change and other environmental issues, then reskilling into sustainability could be a fulfilling career move. You could be helping an organisation to reach its net zero targets as a Sustainability Manager, or working alongside architects to design energy-efficient houses as a Sustainable Building Consultant.

Take a look at the Green Careers Hub for more insights and tips on how to start your transition into the sustainability sector.

This is a guest blog written by Hays for the Green Careers Hub. Hays is a strategic partner of the Green Careers Hub.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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IEMA is the membership body for environment and sustainability professionals