Sustainability and green jobs
Find out how your work can contribute to the sustainability agenda.
What do we mean by jobs in sustainability, and green jobs?
Your work can contribute to the sustainability agenda on a number of levels.
The opportunity for green jobs and skills should not be considered as niche or restricted to certain sectors of the economy. Every job has the potential to become ‘green’ as the world moves to combat climate change, and there are a huge range of skills which will support the transition to a net zero economy.
Thinking carefully about your values, and researching the environmental policies and impact of different employers, will be important in deciding on the path you want to take.
Your options are:
Working in an organisation whose focus is entirely on delivering goods and services which will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions (see the list of sectors below - although there will be organisations in sectors other than these who also share this focus))
Working in an organisation which does not fit into any of these areas, in a role whose purpose is the reduction of the company’s impact on the environment (for example you might find a role as a recycling manager in a petrochemicals company). Whether or not this sits comfortably with you will depend on your own convictions
Working in an unrelated role, outside these key areas, and championing the “greenification” of your role and the company by embedding sustainable practice into day-to-day operations
The World Economic Forum, in its Jobs of Tomorrow paper, views green jobs alongside social jobs as key to providing a socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable economy. Defining green jobs as roles needing specific "green skills" it identifies the UK as one of the countries with the greatest unmet need for these roles.
Jobs of Tomorrow (World Economic Forum, January 2023)
The Green Jobs Taskforce Report to the UK Government in May 21 identified the following sectors - and therefore the organisations within them - as crucial to meeting the goal of zero energy-related carbon dioxide emissions - Net Zero:
Power – including renewables (such as wind, solar and hydropower) and nuclear power
Homes and buildings – including building new energy-efficient homes and retrofitting older ones
Transport – including low or zero emission vehicles
Natural resources – including nature restoration, and waste management and recycling
Enabling decarbonisation – including science and innovation for climate change, green finance, circular economy and energy networks
Climate adaptation – including nature-based solutions to reduce climate impacts, and infrastructure adaptation and flood defences
The Green Careers Hub created by the IEMA (Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment) is a great tool to use to explore different green roles and find one that's a good fit for you. For each job profile there's an explanation of how this role aligns with the green agenda, which helps you to see it in context. Another valuable feature is the Jargon Buster which is a quick way to clarify what commonly used phrases really mean, and check your understanding of them. The UK regional views offer helpful overviews of key green sectors in different geographic areas of the UK.
- Green Careers Hub
- Green Careers Hub - find your green role
- Green Careers Hub - jargon buster
- Green Careers Hub - regional views
How to find a job that's good for you and the planet - A Green Careers Guide is a downloadable resource produced by EAUC Scotland (Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education) in November 2023. Besides exploring what "green careers" means it suggests ways of finding training opportunities and gives advice on job hunting.
The information and opportunities provided by the Department of Social Responsibility and Sustainability here at the University will offer a valuable introduction and basis for your next steps:
Other places to look for paid work experience include:
Bright Green Business - short term paid placements for students and graduates
Changeworks - works with volunteers to combat household waste and fuel poverty
It’s also important to demonstrate your commitment through volunteering, internships, and involvement with professional bodies, pressure groups and charities.
Take inspiration from this blog from one of our alumni:
A Masters qualification can be helpful, although there is no clear professional postgraduate training route for careers in sustainablility.
Getting a graduate job
There is no clear entry route or career path, or standard job titles. There are a small number of graduate programmes in this area, and some other graduate schemes may encompass aspects of it alongside other elements. Jobs in this field won’t necessarily have sustainability or corporate social responsibility in their title, so it’s important to read job descriptions carefully.
For dedicated sustainability jobs you may need to build up your skills and experience in other roles first before moving across.
Approaching your job search from other angles, such as looking into opportunities in policy work or charities or environmental protection, may be another way to find roles which allow you to work towards goals which reflect similar values.
Be prepared to demonstrate a good understanding of business, and commercial awareness.
Networking should be a priority when you are looking for jobs in this field. Connect with university alumni on LinkedIn, and attend events.