Sustainability workers in demand but will our skills support the need?

Richard Evans, Managing Director at Talent Nation, has been in recruitment for 23 years. He turned his focus to environment and sustainability in 2008 when discussions around the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme gave him an insight into to the sector, its people and their pioneering projects, and today he’s seeing a gear change in the demand for jobs and skills.

“Over the past 13 years I’ve seen sustainability roles shift from a tokenistic nice-to-have that ticks a box in an annual report, to something that gives an organisation a competitive edge. This is being driven by the commercial impact of Green Star ratings, savings from energy efficiencies, employees seeking healthy workspaces and investors turning to resilient projects that reduce risk and enhance reputation,” explains Richard

Richard adds the momentum is being fuelled by an element of FOMO, “COVID-19 showed sustainability roles are important; we saw very few redundancies, roles were preserved, and now as we start to rebuild, we’re seeing the demand for skills accelerate. On top of this, consultants are busy right now and this usually means industry will soon be busier too.”

Last year Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) certified 456 Green Star projects; the most ratings issued in a single year. While this busyness brings excitement that real change is ahead, Richard predicts the required skills mightn’t satisfy demand.

“There is going to be a skills shortage. I think there’s an opportunity now for organisations to grow from within by upskilling existing staff and this is where the resources, courses and knowledge from GBCA can really bring people through the change” says Richard.

Talent Nation is seeing a need for skills in supply chain, sustainable procurement and responsible sourcing and there’s a developing interest in human rights and modern slavery. Organisations are increasingly ambitious and wanting to turn their actions into results, so climate change and net zero strategy is now a “must have”.

Lucy Harris, Head of Industry Development and Communications at GBCA says that over the past 12 months there’s been a climb in Green Star course attendance, while shorter Insights sessions focusing on specialist topics have experienced exponential growth.

“Last year we flicked the switch on online training, giving attendees the flexibility to train at a time and place that suits them. Online learning helps us tap into the international market too, meaning our attendees can tune in from anywhere while we can access presenters from around the globe,” explains Lucy.

While the Insights sessions are perfect for those wanting to get up to speed on a certain topic – and include everything from circular economy, to sustainable retrofits and preparing for electric vehicles – GBCA’s Foundations and Advanced courses give professionals the skills they need to work on Green Star projects.

“It’s vital we have a skilled workforce that can support the sustainable transformation underway in the built environment. Our Continuing Professional Development program aims to maintain this momentum by expanding Green Star know-how within the industry,” says Lucy.

If you’re a sustainability professional looking to upskill or if you need to build your workforce’s knowledge, we have flexible training options to suit your needs. If you’re a Green Star Associate or a Green Star Accredited Professional, don’t forget your CPD points expire on June 30.

This article was originally featured on Green Building Council Australia.