Despite a loosening labour market, companies in the UK are actively recruiting for new sustainable roles and investing in sustainability skills, according to a report from recruitment specialist Totaljobs.
The report, which occurs quarterly, found that green recruitment trends are running counter to the wider market, which is experiencing a slowdown in hiring as companies adjust to ongoing economic headwinds.
Based on insights from 1,011 HR experts and 2,027 employed adults (18+) in the UK, the report found that over one-fifth (23%) of companies are increasing the number of green roles within their business, and this figure rises to over 2 in 5 (44%) for large businesses. This marks a 677% increase in green recruitment over four years.
Sustainability terminology is also on the rise, with terms such as “climate change,” “green,” and “corporate social responsibility” appearing more frequently in job descriptions, with an average of 80% including them.
However, despite the growing demand for green skills, less than 1 in 5 (17%) businesses currently offer training. This is in stark contrast to the finding that almost a third (31%) of employers say their staff are asking for more training.
“Environmental policy is a roadmap for businesses and investors looking to embrace sustainability. Therefore, the Prime Minister’s recent announcements on net zero targets and policy changes might impact upcoming business decisions,” said Julius Probst, European labour market economist at Totaljobs.
“However, despite this, it’s evident that the UK’s low carbon and renewable energy sector will sustain its growth, making sustainability a pivotal aspect for attracting talent.”
Sustainability taking centre stage
According to the report, over half (58%) of companies have or are in the process of implementing a sustainability framework. This increases to 85% for larger businesses. This is likely in response to incoming sustainability regulations, such as the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) which will impact a number of businesses next year.
Employees are also putting pressure on businesses to address climate change, with over 4 out of 5 employees wanting their employer to do more. Millennials (ages 27 to 42) are currently the most eco-conscious generation in the workforce, followed by Gen Z (ages 11 to 26).
But that’s not to say all generations aren’t sustainability minded. An overwhelming majority (90%) of employees believe their employer has a responsibility to help the environment and would welcome sustainability-related restrictions (such as carrying out business trips only by train, printing quotas, etc.).
Better for business
Working for a sustainable business is a motivator for employees, and 4 in 5 candidates say they would have a higher job satisfaction working for a sustainable employer. Some (33%) would even leave their jobs to pursue a career with a greater “purpose.”
“Not only is there a wider societal and environmental need to go green, but it could help attract and retain talent as candidates become more aware of ESG importance,” said Probst. “For employers facing difficulties in sourcing talent within competitive timelines, showcasing your sustainability initiatives isn’t just a tool to enhance your employer branding; it’s a compelling incentive for candidates to seriously consider your organisation.”
The report’s findings suggest that businesses in the UK are taking sustainability seriously and investing in green jobs. However, more needs to be done to train workers on green skills and to meet the growing demand for sustainable business practices.
While green jobs are booming, Stuart Lemon, of international climate consultancy EcoAct, has commented that while the growth is a “promising sign of progress,” simply hiring more personnel is not enough.
“Making the radical changes necessary for net zero requires integration with every department and process in the company. With those new green hires in place, the first vital step is securing the buy-in that will enable them to bring the full business along on the net zero journey,” he says.
You can read the full report here.
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