Over the last few years, discussion has surged around sustainability and environmental careers. No longer a fringe field, sustainability professionals have become some of the most in-demand new hires in the world.
For those considering a job in sustainability or businesses looking to improve their carbon footprint, these contributing factors are key to understanding and responding to the growing demand for sustainability professionals.
Public Demands Action
The sheer volume of public demand for sustainability action is driving growth in sustainability-focused jobs more than arguably anything else. Numerous recent factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have drawn consumer attention to the urgency of climate action. In fact, the World Wildlife Fund found that demand for sustainable products has risen over 70% since 2016.
Additionally, there was a 45% increase between 2016 and 2020 in the number of businesses expressly committed to sustainable sourcing practices. This is a clear indication that the driving factor behind rising corporate sustainability action is public demand.
This translates to jobs in a few ways. For example, many businesses are adding a sustainability officer to their team. Additionally, consumers are looking for more sustainable products, such as electric cars or solar panels, which is increasing the demand for jobs in those industries.
In fact, growth for several environmental jobs is projected to grow much more than the national average, with solar cell installers surging a shocking 50% between 2019 and 2029.
Natural Demand Increases
On a deeper level, demand for sustainability professionals has slowly been increasing over recent years as nature itself has demanded. When there are more forest fires, for example, more forest firefighters will be needed year-around. Preservation also becomes a greater priority as the environment faces mounting threats, so jobs in fields like forestry and conservation have risen in a similar fashion.
One field where this driving factor is particularly evident is agriculture. As the global population grows, more food will be needed in addition to more people to care for and cultivate farmland.
The most dedicated agriculture companies have already begun utilizing things like sustainable crop protection and soil health technologies, which help to optimize crops for sustainability and dietary health. These tools keep crops safe from pests and other hazards that can diminish yields, ensuring farmers are able to maximize production without sacrificing quality or environmental impact.
As demand for food grows around the world alongside the population, more sustainability experts will be needed in agricultural science and engineering to develop these technologies further.
Green Priorities for Gen Z
The world’s youngest generation of professionals is the most vocal in history when it comes to climate action. Gen Z is pursuing careers in sustainability in record numbers, driving colleges to expand environmentally focused degree programs. Consisting of young people born roughly between 1996 and 2010, Gen Z is beginning to enter the workforce in droves.
This generation is a driving force right now because they are just beginning to enter the workforce in volume and they have a platform like no other generation before. The internet, especially social media, has energized Gen Z to speak up about sustainability.
Nationwide surveys have found that Gen Z’s number one concern is climate change. Not only are “Zoomers” themselves flocking to more environmentally focused careers, but their generation’s online presence is also driving businesses to respond with sustainability initiatives.
Lastly, government action is driving an increase in sustainability professions around the world. The U.S. took a significant step toward increasing sustainability when the Biden administration passed a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill in 2021.
The bill includes initiatives to expand green energy infrastructure which will drastically increase jobs in renewable energy fields, such as solar and wind.
In fact, the above mentioned 50% projected growth in solar panel installers is likely due in part to this anticipated growth in American renewable energy. Everything from maintenance personnel to design engineers will be needed as the U.S. increases and updates its renewable energy infrastructure.
Jobs for a Greener Tomorrow
The growing demand for sustainability professionals indicates an optimistic bend in the road for climate action. The best part is that this demand in jobs extends to careers at a variety of education and experience levels, with benefits that reach consumers, businesses, and communities alike.
Growth in sustainability careers is much more than a trend. It is a sign that the world may just be coming together to create a greener tomorrow after all.