Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Charlotte Geoghegan is Event Manager for Safety & Health Expo and SHP at Informa Markets. She is responsible for content, strategy and sales of physical events and digital products. She is also an active member of the Women in Health and Safety committee. Before Charlotte went into this role she was Head of Content for the Safety & Health Expo, SHP, IFSEC, FIREX and the Facilities Show. She joined Informa (previously UBM) in 2015. Charlotte has spent 10 years in media & events and her academic background is in modern foreign languages. You can find her on LinkedIn here
May 6, 2022

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Training and careers

3 reasons a young person should consider a career in health & safety

SHP speaks to Melissa Mark-Joyce CMIOSH, CSP, MIIRSM, Associate Director EHS at Labcorp Drug Development, to discuss why health and safety professionals need to play their part in encouraging young people to embark on careers in the health and safety profession.

Melissa is currently Associate Director EHS UK ED and EMEA CDCS at Labcorp Drug Development, a global company that provides comprehensive drug development solutions for a range of companies.

She is also an IOSH Council Member, representing the views of members of the Institution to the Board of Trustees, and the IOSH Chiltern Branch Chair, ensuring the branch business is organised and run in an efficient manner.

This interview is part of a series for Women in Health and SafetyAs a member of the committee our goal is to amplify the voices of women in the profession. Some of the topics covered affect women more than men. Some are deeply personal. It’s our belief that we bring our whole selves to work and therefore should be able to talk about all sorts of issues that affect us, day-to-day, in a work setting.

Two things have struck us throughout this series. 1) We all have so much in common. 2) People are often very willing to open up if they’re given a safe opportunity to do so with someone who is willing to listen without judgement. So, our hope is that issues discussed in this series resonate with readers, perhaps making some feel less alone, perhaps even giving some the confidence to share their own stories. We also hope readers will be encouraged to check in on colleagues, talk about the whole selves we bring to work and be there to listen.

Do you feel that we have enough young people coming into the health and safety profession?

melissa mark-joyce

Melissa Mark-Joyce (MMJ): “I don’t have the exact numbers but I recall an article a couple of years ago that stated a projection of health and safety professionals needed in the next two to five years relative to how many were entering the profession, and there was a massive gap.  And this was before the ‘gold rush’ for health and safety professionals during the pandemic, so that gap would only have widen in the last year.

“I don’t think we have enough young people coming into the profession right now. It’s something we have to change. We’ve got do something to energise them into this profession, making it interesting, showing how you can make a difference to the world, bringing in advanced technology. Traditionally, people may have seen health and safety professional as a compliance officer, being the one that is the bearer of why something cannot be done, which isn’t necessarily motivating.”

Who do you think is in the best position to influence young people?

(MMJ): “This must be wide ranging across all groups – parents, teachers, businesses and communities. Health, Safety and Risk management associations like IOSH, IIRSM and ASSP (in the US) and focus groups like OneWISH can set roadmaps and help health & safety professionals to share our stories, use advocacy programs to influence governments and businesses to support internships, apprenticeship programs but also scholarship programs. Additionally, university programs need to continue to include health and safety modules in other degree programs outside of dedicated Health and Safety related degrees. All these approaches will encourage the young people to look into health and safety as a study route and then a career’’

“This is important as we need young people to know that we need them to come in and make a difference to workplace fatalities and occupational illnesses, we need their technological thinking, we need their bias for diversity & inclusion.”

“One best practice I have seen and was involved in during my time in the US is a program called Young Women Energised which is run as a community program under Women’s Energy Network. This program has been effective in encouraging young people into STEM education and careers and can be used as an example for encouraging the younger generation into health and safety.”

Can you tell us a little bit about the Women’s Energy Network?

(MMJ): “The network has been around for about 20 plus years. It was started in Houston, Texas by a woman who may have been the only woman in her company at the time. And it’s amazing how it’s grown.

“They now have around 20 chapters across the US and Mexico.

“As well as programmes focussed on mentoring and career support, they have an amazing community program called Young Women’s Energised, which has been going for about 15 years.’’

“The aim is to encourage young girls to be interested in STEM. The program includes raising funds to give out scholarships for those with financial challenges who want to go to college.

Young Women’s Energised holds an annual event where they give out the scholarship awards, but it’s also a big event for everyone else too. It brings together women who are in STEM-related careers who can be seen as role models.

“There are presentation workshops for the young students as well as for their parents and teachers, letting them know about university offerings and career options

“I personally see value in programs like this.  I’m from Trinidad & Tobago and I grew up in a very low-income home and for me education was very important. I knew I would not have been able to go to university if I didn’t get some form of funding. I was fortunate to get a scholarship and I was able to study chemical engineering. If I hadn’t had that opportunity, I wouldn’t be sitting here in London now having this conversation with you. So, just one example of how we can encourage the younger generation into STEM and by extension health and safety.”

You are involved on the IOSH Council, what can you tell us about IOSH’s Future of the OSH profession workgroup, what IOSH is doing around future leaders and to encourage young people into health & safety?

(MMJ): “This is my first year as an IOSH Council member which I am very grateful for as I am seeing a broader aspect of IOSH and connecting with other council members, all passionate Health and Safety professionals. One of Council responsibilities is to provide advice and guidance to the IOSH Board of Trustees on matters of strategy and policy relating to the profession. It recently established a number of Steering Groups, with one being tasked to looked at  the Future of the Profession, very timely in a post pandemic world where we have so many insights about the future of the workplace, health, safety and wellbeing of employees and the increasing value of the health and safety professional.

“The Steering Groups’ mission is to help to enable amazing young talent to know about the profession and enter it, and to enable those already in the profession to lead it in this new sustainability focused world post pandemic. It is still early days of the steering group, and its yet to put forward its recommendations to Council and then hopefully to the Board to consider, but the energy of the group is amazing, looking at topics such as rebranding safety, looking at the skills, knowledge and leadership styles for future success in the profession and how we all give back to the profession. The future is really bright for the health and safety professional and I am fortunate to be part of it!

“Outside of council, IOSH has a Future Leaders Group which is for IOSH members or Student members who are 35 years and younger or have five or fewer years’ OSH experience. This is a great initiative to continue to build the pipeline of health and safety professionals.”

What are your top-3 reasons a young person should consider a career in health & safety?

(MMJ): “There are so many reasons!! But the three main ones are:

  1. A career in health and safety is rewarding as you get to make a real positive difference to businesses, governments and communities. There is currently on average 2.8 million people dying per year from workplace related injury or illness. This profession plays a critical role in in stemming this statistic
  2. Every organisation has health and safety legal responsibilities so there is the opportunity to work in a range of industries and businesses of all different types and sizes. This provides a lot of career opportunities including roles of health and safety advisor, manager, head of safety, EHS director just to name a few
  3. It’s a growing profession as businesses and organisations are investing more in occupational safety and health (OSH), seen even further during the pandemic as employees expect more from employers on their health, safety and wellbeing. Additionally, the profession is expanding to include broader sustainability areas, making this a truly exciting, influential, rewarding profession.”

Additional resources

Click here for SHP’s Health and safety careers and training hub.

To look for career opportunities, visit SHP4Jobs.

For more information about the Women in Health and Safety network see our hub page here.

To learn more about the Women in Health & Safety Network workstreams and mailing list, click here.

Read more from this Women in Health & Safety interview series.

Starting out in a career in health & safety

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from two women at the start of their careers, speaking about their journey into health & safety and the challenges they have faced along the way.

Advance your career in health and safety

Browse hundreds of jobs in health and safety, brought to you by SHP4Jobs, and take your next steps as a consultant, health and safety officer, environmental advisor, health and wellbeing manager and more.

Or, if you’re a recruiter, post jobs and use our database to discover the most qualified candidates.

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