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COP26, Net Zero by 2050 and the skills crisis. Something doesn’t add up.

  • Publish Date: Posted over 2 years ago
  • Author:by Lester Lockyer

​After 20 years recruiting in Sustainability, 2021 feels like the year that the Sustainability agenda got off the bus it had been travelling in and jumped into a super charged next gen EV. Let’s make no mistake, this is exactly what all the passionate people I have been working with for most of my career have been dreaming of. Now is the time to act and the world has woken up to it.

If like me, you spend your work days thinking about Climate Change, Net Zero, Decarbonisation, ESG, GHG, Carbon Accounting and all things Sustainability, then drivetime radio on the journey home, every newspaper headline or the evening news are all a bit of a busman’s holiday. In a good way.

This is what we’ve been waiting for. It’s all very, very good. HOWEVER….. where are we going to get the skills to support this new wave of activity? If we imagine the sector as a factory - let’s call it the Sustainability Factory - orders have been good, in fact they’ve been steadily growing for a number of years. Then, suddenly, everyone needs your product. New orders go through the roof. Supply struggles to meet demand. What do you do? Build a new factory? Double the shifts? Either way, you still need a bigger, skilled workforce to keep up. This is today’s reality.

The UK is, and wishes to continue, leading the world in the knowledge sector and technologies around a green transition. To keep up with demand, we need to put in place measures for the mid to long term. An increased university uptake in STEM subjects and ensuring the curricula delivers on what the industry needs will help for the future, but what about right now? 

There is no shortage of people who would like to transition their career into this sector. However, it’s not that simple a change. The industry wants - and needs - experienced professionals right now to deliver on environmental targets, meet investor demand for data or increased regulatory framework requirements, put operational measures in place and meet customer expectations. Currently, there simply isn’t enough existing talent in the market to meet the need as ESG awareness rises, Net Zero targets bite and the climate change clock keeps ticking.

Throw in a few more factors – a global pandemic (which is far from over), labour market access (I’m deliberately avoiding the B word), an already stretched workforce (meaning limited internal movement) and the Sustainability skills crisis is critical.

Hiring in the space has never been more difficult. Yet it’s not impossible. Hiring processes need to change: Advertising responses have dwindled. Sector understanding needs to be honed. Turnaround times should be slick. Role requirements need to be clear. Diaries freed for interviews. Paperwork signed off in advance. Offers made speedily. Counter offers anticipated (and acted upon).

With over 20 years of working in the sector, at Allen & York we have a bit of a head start. If you’re looking to hire in Sustainability, from ESG and SRI to CSR and Sustainability Management to Corporate or not for profit, we have an established network in place and the skills and experience to know what good looks like. If you need help hiring, get in touch and let’s start the conversation. There’s no time to lose.

Lester Lockyer, Managing Director

+44(0)1202 888986 |

Allen & York – delivering Sustainable Recruitment Solutions since 1993.