Green jobs fall, but corporate sustainability bucking the trend

24 June 2014 — While the green jobs market is contracting in Australia, things are starting to pick up in the corporate sustainability area, according to recruitment firm Talent Nation’s managing director Richard Evans.

The company is a week into its recruitment drive for a sustainability advisor for a major listed real estate investment trust that invests high quality retail assets. They will be looking to shortlist for the Melbourne-based role in the coming days.

While a recent International Energy Agency report found that green jobs were declining in Australia, Evans said that for the space Talent Nation focused on, corporate sustainability, things were looking up.

“The sector as a whole has retracted. However, the area in the corporate space is starting to pick up, though we are coming off a low base,” he told The Fifth Estate.

For environmental consultancies, things were a bit patchy.

“Some are still going through redundancies and are pretty quiet, others are picking up,” Evans said.

While some were at capacity with their workload, many were still cautious about taking on permanent staff, which has led to an increase in requests for contract employees.

“People are looking at how they can ramp up without increasing headcount.”

The timeframe of contracts depended on the project. At the moment, sustainability reporting requirements have seen a number of 6-12 week contracts, while larger projects can see fixed-term contracts of up to 12 months.

The end of financial year meant that things were currently pretty quiet in the jobs space, but as new budgets get approved for the new financial year there should be an uptick in job advertisements, Evans said.

Also in the closing phases is the search for a senior sustainability advisor for a telecommunications giant, with an appointment likely in next couple of weeks. The position is a replacement role as a result of an internal promotion.

Evans said an emerging trend for companies unable or unwanting to increase headcount was to use replacements as an opportunity to tweak roles to increase capabilities – looking at the existing sustainability team’s capabilities and then recruiting to upskill these.

“There are three I can think of immediately that have done that over the past six months,” Evans said.

While this meant teams were not getting bigger, it was a more positive sign than had been happening a year ago, where roles were routinely not replaced and absorbed into the functions of other employees.

This article was originally featured on The Fifth Estate.