60% of young people are ‘worried’ or ‘extremely worried’ about climate change!
(according to a global survey conducted by Bath University in 2021)
Climate change is happening, but that doesn’t need to be the end of the story. We can all do something to tackle the accelerating impacts of climate change – whether that be from home, how we act, or in the job that we choose. We all have a part to play. Organisations across the world are understanding the need for a major shift in the way we work and behave. This is leading to a huge upsurge in green jobs - but what are they and how can you get one?
What is a Green Job?
Asking what is a green job is a little bit like asking “how long is a piece of string”. Not because it’s impossible to answer but because there are almost infinite answers.
The United Nations Environment Programme defines green jobs as “work in agricultural, manufacturing, research and development (R&D), administrative, and service activities that contribute(s) substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality. Specifically, but not exclusively, this includes jobs that help to protect ecosystems and biodiversity; reduce energy, materials, and water consumption through high efficiency strategies; de-carbonize the economy; and minimise or altogether avoid generation of all forms of waste and pollution."
To make things a little clearer, we’ll break it into two areas: direct and indirect green jobs.
Direct Green Jobs
These are the jobs which come to mind when we think of the environment and the climate crisis. Any role which has a very direct impact on the environment. This might be through conservation work, reduction of an organisations carbon footprint or increasing renewable energy. In any direct green job, your day-to-day work will seek to have a positive impact on the environment, whether that is in the short term or in the longer term. You could be developing new technologies to make transport more efficient, working on rewilding areas of the countryside or assisting other companies create plans for achieving net zero. Roles such as energy manager, ecologist, marine biologist, renewable energy technician and sustainability analyst all come under the green jobs title.
As the climate crisis has accelerated and the need for change has increased, we are seeing more and more support for roles in the green jobs sector. But this doesn’t and shouldn’t stop at technical roles where you might be expected to have a mathematical, scientific or engineering background. This is where indirect green jobs come in…
Indirect Green Jobs
Indirect Green jobs are equally important in the fight and are growing just as fast as the direct roles. An indirect green job is anything which supports the work of the green jobs, or supports the move to greener ways of working within an organisation. Often, an element of the role has a focus on sustainability. While these roles may not be directly impacting the environment, they have a huge influence on people and processes, which in turn can impact the planet. The list of indirect green jobs is almost endless from marketing to accountancy, HR to PR and everything in between. These roles are absolutely critical if we are to achieve net zero. Particularly when working with people, the influence on other behaviours can have a huge impact on individuals and organisations to make stronger commitments to the environment and sustainability.
So, the things the two role types have in common: a green skill set and an understanding of what is needed to move us forward to a more sustainable future.
How can I get into a Green Job?
The good news is that with so many green jobs out there, you have multiple options for how to get into one. Depending on what you want to do, there will be a route to suit you – whether that be an apprenticeship, internship, degree or any other work experience.
No matter where you are in your education or career, there are opportunities to help you get a green role. Here are some of our top tips:
Research options: As we’ve already highlighted, there are so many roles in the green jobs market that there is no single degree or course that covers them all, so start researching!
Start off by thinking about the skills, interests and passions you already have and see if you can find roles which match these. For example, are you driven by conservation and biodiversity? Or renewable energy? Or do you want to focus more on people such as behaviour change, engagement or education? Or do you have an interest in arts, events, or journalism? – it really is unlimited, and every avenue can (and should!) have a sustainability thread throughout.
Take a look at the jobs that are already out there and look at the sort of skills or experience that might be needed. Some useful places to look are:
Research the industry: Think about the organisations that you would like to work for, or the people you would like to work with. LinkedIn is a great place to start making connections with people in the industry that you’re interested in. Pay attention to the actions of others and set yourself some goals for what you would like to achieve within your role.
Leverage your skills and passions: Whether you’re just starting out or looking to change careers, you will have a host of skills, values and passions that can help you secure the job you want. Try listing out all the skills you have and putting at least one example of how you have used this skill in the past. For instance, project management, data analysis and communication are all extremely useful transferable skills that you will need for a host of roles.
Enrol for relevant training: Once you know the sort of role you would like to do, it’s time to look for relevant training (unless you already have all the right skills, of course). This might be an apprenticeship, internship, diploma, short course or degree. Many roles have multiple pathways so if you have a preferred learning style or want to get into employment faster than a degree lets you, then be sure to check out all your options.
Our Sustainability Leadership Skills programme is a fantastic resource for a gaining a wide range of skills that will help you get a job in the green sector.
Gain Experience: Look for internships, volunteer opportunities and entry level positions to gain experience and build your CV. Reaching out to people in the industry, or others who have just started out in their career can be a nice way to find out how others gained their experience and get inside tips (as well as to introduce yourself, build confidence and get your name out there!). If you’re at university, see if there is any experience you can get within a faculty, the Students Union or a society.
Join relevant organisations: There are lots of organisations that have student and young professional memberships which gives you access to resources, courses and information about the industry you want to work in. Some of these are the Association for Sustainability Professionals (ASP), The Chartered Institute for Waster Management (CIWM), Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) or The Renewable Energy Institute. Joining these also shows future employers your commitment to the industry and can be something recruiters look out for on CVs.
ICAEW has a fantastic list which covers a lot of indirect green jobs associations, as well as direct.
Every job should be a green job and we believe that we can all find the skills to excel. Whether a direct or indirect green job, they all play a critical role in the fight against the climate crisis.