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March 26, 2013

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Environment profession shows signs of growth

UK businesses are investing in ‘green growth’ and creating jobs for environmental professionals, according to findings from the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment’s latest annual survey of its members.

One-fifth of the 2200-plus members who answered the survey said their company employed more environmental professionals last year.

Overall, 96 per cent of members describe themselves as in employment, with just 2.4 per cent categorising themselves as unemployed. Fifty-four per cent of respondents said roles had been created in environmental management, protection, or regulation – closely followed by those who reported a number of sustainability roles had been taken up (53 percent), and those who said people had been recruited into health, safety and environment roles (50 per cent).

The five most common environmental work areas continue the trends from the 2012 and 2011 surveys, with more than one-third of respondents (37 per cent) working in health, safety and environment or environment management roles.

The salary picture is also positive, with well over half (57 per cent) of those surveyed securing a pay rise last year. The survey findings reveal that the average annual salary for a professionally qualified and experienced IEMA member now exceeds £46,000. Practitioners working in the mining and quarrying sector typically earn the highest wages, with an average of £62,000.

The survey also spells good news for those entering the profession – with 14 per cent of companies now investing in graduates, for whom the main opportunities lie in impact assessment. Other opportunities lie in ecology and biodiversity and climate change.

Overall, the profession is highly skilled, with almost 85 per cent educated to degree level or higher, and 97 per cent confirming they have some form of formal qualification. Business is also showing commitment to the profession, with 77 per cent of respondents confirming that their employer provides financial assistance for their ongoing professional development.

“These figures are clear evidence that UK plc is now putting environment central to their businesses, and using this as a strategy to grow their way out of the recession,” commented Martin Baxter, executive director, policy at IEMA. “With more than £23 billion potential savings a year available (according to Defra) in energy and waste savings, employing an environment professional will not only provide a direct payback but will also build businesses’ resilience to future challenges and open up opportunities.

“Government should follow the lead of business and put green growth and environmental investment at the heart of building a sustainable economy.”

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