Why choose an environmental career?

Against the tide of many sectors, the career opportunities associated with environmental sustainability are growing slowly but steadily.

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Predictions for the Republic of Ireland state that job
figures within the green economy should rise to 29,000
by 2015. In the period 2008-2010 alone around 2,000
green-related jobs were created in the Republic. This
does not count over 5,000 jobs anticipated for publicly funded
retrofitting programmes for built development.

A recent Forfás National Skills Bulletin for the Republic
shows significant demand for highly qualified and
experienced engineering, science and technical
graduates specialising in the energy sector.

In the near
future the utilities sector is expected to expand, based
on policy decisions around renewable energy targets
and a slowdown in the extraction sector. Survey figures
published by Environmental Data Services (ENDS) for
the UK, including Northern Ireland, predicts over
400,000 more ‘green’ jobs being generated by 2020.

Research

There are research opportunities
within all industries in the ‘green’
economy, in public, private and notfor-profit
organisations. At
government level both the North and
Republic of Ireland have green
research and development (R&D)
high on the agenda, with a particular
emphasis on the pooling of research
expertise, the development of
research alliances, the consolidation
of R&D funding programmes and the
development R&D strategy for the
overall green and clean-tech sector.
Evidence of this can be seen in the
growth and expansion of centres in
colleges and universities throughout
Ireland, many of which are managing
leading-edge research projects
contributing to the development of
green initiatives worldwide.

Food and retail

Consumers are becoming more
environmentally conscious. Shoppers
want to know whether food and
other retail items, especially footwear
and clothing, have been produced
and distributed using sustainable
practices. Graduate buyers working
for ethical retailers will be expected
to vet suppliers strictly in considering
where to purchase goods. In terms of
packaging in particular, and also in
terms of the reduction, reuse and
recycling of domestic electrical waste,
those promoting the drive for
sustainability seek to influence
manufacturers to invest in
sustainable production and to
consider the life cycle of their
product.

Food exports remain one of the
greatest contributors to the Irish
economy and the food and drinks
industry as a whole is Ireland’s most
important indigenous industry.
Quality artisan food production is
growing steadily. Positions as food
technologists, quality control and
quality assurance technicians,
development chefs and food product
development experts are increasingly
common for food technology and
culinary arts graduates.

Eco-tourism

The increase in awareness of our
personal environmental impact has
stimulated growth in the eco-tourism
sector, offering jobs for students and
graduates of all disciplines. This
includes roles promoting eco-holidays
and also those helping tourism and
travel companies to reduce their
negative impact on the planet.
Other business functions
As with all other careers,
organisations in all areas of the
environmental goods and services
sector of the economy also employ
graduates from all disciplines in the
day-to-day operational functions
such as human resource
management, sales, marketing,
accounting and finance and IT
support.

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