This is a prospect that no one really wants to think about, but in today’s climate of economic uncertainty and “fiscal cliffs,” the topic is unavoidable. Cycles of large-scale hiring, followed by large-scale lay-offs, are a fact of life for numerous businesses in every sector, including those linked to environmental industries.
Despite all this, workers with environmental skill-sets have a distinct advantage.
Since the transition to greener practices and greater sustainability is something that is happening across all areas of the economy, many green professionals have skills that are in demand in a variety of sectors. In fact, environmental employees are often invaluable to companies when times are tight, since their expertise in areas like energy efficiency or risk management allows them to save major costs for their employers.
In our research for The Green Jobs Map
, we found a profile of environmental workers who were especially golden. These professionals had environment-related skills that made their green career path more “recession-proof” because these competencies were in top demand in the majority of contributing sectors in Canada’s green economy.
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In our study, workers with the best career resilience had these types of green skills:
• Environmental Business, Technology & Product Development
• Environmental Training & Education
• Natural Resources Planning & Management
• Environmental Safety
• Corporate Environmental Program Planning and Implementation
• Water Quality Management
• Site Assessment
Even if there was a sudden drop in available jobs in their present industry, professionals that had the skills above would be able to find employment in other sectors. Their competencies were requested in at least 1 out of 5 new green job ads, and these same skills were also required in at least 8 different sectors.
At the other end of the spectrum was a category of skills that were in lower demand and did not appear in a large number of sectors. Accordingly, workers with these particular skills experienced reduced career flexibility. This category included competencies such as:
• Pollution Prevention, Abatement & Control
• Waste Management
• Environmental Research
• Climate Change
• Environmental Impact Assessments
The main defining characteristic (and potential area of concern) for this category was that these skills were in relatively low-demand – they were required in less than 10% of recent green job vacancies.
While this might not be an issue during times of strong economic growth, there will be significant challenges for professionals who only have these skill-sets when there is a recession or general slow-down in a particular industry. To help boost their green career prospects, these workers should focus on diversifying their skill-set and developing some of the key skills mentioned in the first category.
What are your thoughts on these two categories of skills? When it comes to making your green career more “recession-proof,” what are the strategies that you follow?