One of the main hallmarks of the environmental sector is its dynamism. This is a field where change is fast, frequent and far-reaching.
While a state of constant flux may be intimidating and difficult to follow, I think that the mutability of the sector is also its greatest asset. Where there are changes in the green sector, there are also accompanying opportunities for new growth and development.
Compared to an estimated 3.5% increase in global economic GDP over the next 10 years, future spending on environmental goods and services is expected to rise by a remarkable 4.7 to 7.7%, according to DIW Berlin. This growth is focused in several key areas, and is occurring in ways that you might not expect.
According to ECO Canada’s Canadian Environmental Sector Trends 2010, much of the evolution of the environmental sector is following two major trends. The first is a shift towards pollution prevention, in which environmental protection practices are adopted by a rising number of industries, including those that may not be traditionally environmental. The second is a trend towards diversification, where the emergence of new environmental markets, such as carbon emissions reduction, produces new types of worker demand.
As these two overall growth trends guide the green sector, several areas are showing significant promise. Carbon and climate change mitigation, along with renewable energy and energy efficiency, are emerging areas with strong growth potential. By contrast, agriculture, sustainable forestry, wildlife and fisheries conservation, and minerals management are expected to have a declining demand for workers.
But here is where things get complicated.
The subsequent Profile of Canadian Environmental Employment 2010 uncovered seemingly opposing results. While there has been a decline in the total number of workers employed in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, the demand for environmental skills in these areas has actually increased. Employers in these sub-sectors are increasingly looking for workers with an expanded, higher skill-set who can enhance the productivity of their industries.
So, where and how, ultimately, is growth happening in the environmental sector? Arguably, it is in the proliferation of environmental skills, both across the workforce and within every industry.
It would be wonderful to hear your own experiences related to this! What do you think? How is the environmental sector growing?