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Recruiting for a sustainable future

Published on: 11 Aug 2011

Recruitment firm Allen & York is witnessing a major increase in roles within the sustainability industry.

The move towards sustainability to combat the effects of climate change is creating a number of business opportunities around the globe. One such movement is the creation of the chief sustainability officer and director of sustainability, particularly within corporate business - retail, finance, telecoms - where sustainability is becoming a core strategy. 

For example, Marks & Spencer’s ethical programme Plan A aims to make the supermarket chain the world’s most sustainable major retailer by 2015. Plan A takes a holistic approach to sustainability focusing on involving customers and stakeholders in all areas of the business - tackling issues such as climate change, waste, raw materials, health and fair trade.

Meanwhile, Coca Cola’s recent appointment of Beatriz Perez, its first chief sustainability officer, highlights the growth of boardroom appointments.

“We have made significant progress with our sustainability initiatives, but our current approach needs focus and better integration to further accelerate our system sustainability agenda and meet our 2020 Vision goals,” says Muhtar Kent, chair and chief executive officer at the drinks giant.

For a number of top performing FTSE 100 multinationals the sustainability agenda is of equal importance with the likes of marketing, research and development, and finance playing a significant part in the overall strategy of the corporation. 

Unilever’s chief executive Paul Polman recently delivered a hard-hitting speech at the 2011 World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year, highlighting how companies which haven’t built sustainability into their businesses will lose in the long run.

Specialising in green recruitment

Allen & York has launched Sustainability Search Group to focus on in this area of recruitment.

Utilities, industry and manufacturing are also increasingly moving towards a more sustainable approach to their market and procedures. Specific growth areas for recruitment include water management and renewable energy.

Emerging opportunities exist within the water industry – water is already worth more than petrol in many parts of the world and as global climate change and poor agricultural practices increase, water will increasingly be in low supply.

This is not just an issue for developing countries; 1.4 billion people live in regions where existing water cannot meet the agricultural, industrial, municipal, and environmental needs of all. That number is expected to rise to 1.8 billion by 2025 according to the Stockholm International Water Institute, 2008.

In order to address these concerns, Allen & York has strengthened its presence in the water industry and iscurrently witnessing a demand for professionals within the water, wastewater and water pollution market. They would work alongside environmental scientists and technicians, who are responsible, amongst other areas, for the implementation of environmental monitoring programs for waterways.

Renewable energy benefited from a remarkable growth in investment during 2010, says a recent UN report, rising by one-third to a record $211bn worldwide.  This report comes at a time when the UK government says that a quarter of the UK’s power generating capacity will be shut down within the next 10 years, as old coal and nuclear power stations close.

We all know that the reduction of fossil fuels is a must for a sustainable future and the prediction is that solar, hydro, wind and geothermal generated energy will experience an explosion of growth as fossil fuels run out. Consequently the recruitment in this area is set to boom. 

To present a scale of predicted growth; the wind energy sector as a whole employs around 154,000 people at present (Wind Energy Assoc. data). In 2015 this figure is forecast to grow to 212,000 and in 2020 to 328,000.  The current top 4 EU member employers being: Germany with 38,000, Denmark with 23,000, Spain with 20,000 and France with 7000. 

“Growth in the sector is attributable to a huge range of factors, including financial confidence, technology advancements, legislative support from local governments and increased public support.  We anticipate and are prepared for, significant growth within the Renewable Energy market,” says David Blake, renewable energy manager at Allen & York.

Wind has been the world’s fastest growing renewable energy source for the last eight years. As the costs of generating wind energy fall and the urgent international need to tackle CO2 emissions and prevent climate change grows, it’s a trend that’s set to continue.