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The Growing Demand for Jobs in Sustainability

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Over the past year the demand for more sustainable products and services has spiralled. Customers and employees now rightfully expect the companies they work for and work with to uphold sustainable ways of working.

To meet demand, businesses are adopting greener ways of working such as reduced energy use, less waste, reduced reliance on single use plastics and materials and ethical working practices. As a result, we've seen an increased demand for specialised roles such as sustainability consultants and renewable energy engineers.

Within Cpl, we've hired our first sustainability-focused procurement manager and launched our Green Works sustainable working group. In preparation for 2020, we caught up with Cpl Green Works Vice-Chair and manager of Supply Chain recruitment Susan Deegan on green trends for 2020 and the increase in demand for green jobs going into the future.

Can you tell us a little more about the recent increase in the number of 'green jobs' being recruited for at the moment?

Cpl have recently established a Sustainability division, made up of a team who are specialised in hiring solely for green jobs.

Sustainability differs from other disciplines in that the people working in this area generally have a huge passion and energy for all things sustainable. It's a relatively new but quickly evolving sector, driven by a greater awareness of the climate crisis.

How is sustainability impacting the Supply Chain sector, and hiring trends across the board?

The Supply Chain sector is evolving quickly to put sustainability at the heart of their ways of working. Consumers, customers and suppliers are making their voices heard and they expect companies to be responsible. They want to see companies choose greener materials and processes as the new normal.

Companies are starting to conduct sustainable sourcing, choose environmentally friendly materials and become more ethical in how supply chain impacts communities, right back to source. For example, if a business sources grain from a region in South America, how does this arrangement impact the local villages and indigenous agricultural practices?

Are there any new roles which have emerged recently due to the increased interest in the need for sustainable business?

One of the most exciting things about the sustainability industry is that it is new and with that comes great energy. There are a fascinating range of new business emerging across a range of products and services and lots of excitement around the quickly developing circular economy.

As part of this, new technologies are emerging with highly innovative uses for waste, including converting waste to energy and useful materials. Engineers and innovators are also striving to reduce the volume of waste going to landfill and instead using new technology to convert waste into new products and revenue streams.

We have seen an increase in roles that we have rarely/never seen before including;

  • Responsible Sourcing Manager

  • Ecologist

  • Energy Management Consultant

  • Energy Engineer

  • Sustainability Consultant

  • Waste management consultant

  • Sustainability Project Manager

  • Sustainability Programme Manager

  • Renewables Energy Engineer

Do you have any advice on how companies can encourage staff to be more sustainable in their offices?

Sustainability needs to be embedded in a culture and becomes part of the company values. Some practical steps that worked well for us in Cpl include;

  1. Establish a Green Team who are intrinsically motivated by the green agenda to build and sustain momentum in driving change

  2. Put the right infrastructure in place, such as easy to use recycling bins, LED lighting, self-closing taps.

  3. Hold events on raising awareness on sustainability. Voice Ireland gives an excellent and engaging talk on how to recycle better.

  4. Give staff keep cups instead of paper or single-use coffee cups

  5. Move towards paperless or set paper printing limits

  6. Introduce remote working to reduce carbon footprint. Allowing staff to work from home is a highly sought-after benefit and takes traffic off the street

What do you see as the main sustainable working or hiring trends for 2020?

Larger multinational food and pharma companies will likely further invest in responsible sourcing - ensuring that their materials and supply chains are as ethical and sustainable as possible. This should result in an increased need for Sustainable Sourcing Managers.

Small and medium-sized companies will also need to address sustainability to meet their customer's expectations. These types of companies generally don't have the budget for a full-time sustainability hire, so in most cases, we're seeing a trend that existing staff take on sustainability as an additional element to their current role, aided by a consultant.

As a result, I'd expect to see a greater demand for Sustainability Project Managers and Consultants who will work on short term project and interim roles with companies.

Energy & Renewables Engineers are also likely to increase in demand to meet this growing sector. Engineering students are increasingly opting for this area of specialisation, which will feed into the availability of this skillset.

What is Cpl doing to ensure we are being sustainable in our practices?

We have an active and passionate team called Green Works who raise awareness and drive the green agenda internally. Our CEO, Anne Heraty and our senior leadership team are very engaged and have put together a responsible business document setting out Cpl's Sustainable Development Goals.

Practical practices Cpl have introduced include eliminating single use items, including plastic cups, cutlery and hand towels, the necessity to use a swipe card to limit printing and a recycling infrastructure to reduce our volume of waste. In the past year alone, we've saved 40,000 plastic cups from landfill and reduced printing by 60%.

We have also conducted an energy audit and are currently working to move towards more energy efficient buildings. Like all things related to sustainability, Cpl are a work in progress and learning as we go. We are committed and passionate about creating a greener workplace for all.

Download our Responsible Business report for more details on sustainability at Cpl.