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Sustainability job ads surge

Employers need more help recruiting for sustainability-related jobs, said Indeed's senior economist

The number of sustainability-related job postings grew by 116% from 2019 to 2024, data from the job posting platform Indeed has showed.

Representatives of Indeed commissioned a survey of 1,047 UK employees and found that 55% of respondents said that having a job that positively impacts the environment is more important to them now than at the start of their career.

The survey also revealed that 26% of people who were polled would take a pay cut for a job that contributes to sustainability initiatives. A higher proportion (44%) said they would consider retraining to enter the sustainability sector.

However 42% of employees indicated that there were too many barriers to entry. One in five respondents said that this was because there were not enough paid positions. Where paid sustainability-focussed positions were available, 33% of employees reported that inadequate pay put them off applying.

A further 25% of employees said that they did not apply for sustainability roles because they did not have the right qualifications. Just under half of respondents (44%) indicated that employers were not open enough to transferable skills.

Jack Kennedy, Indeed's senior economist, told HR magazine that employers need more support to help them take advantage of the increased demand for sustainability-related roles.

He said: “In order to take full advantage of this momentum and effectively fill open roles, more education, investment and incentives are needed to support job seekers and employers throughout the recruitment process. 

“With 44% believing that employers aren’t open enough to transferable skills, hiring managers would be wise to consider how they can better support workers with applicable skills transition into sustainability roles.”

Read more: How the climate crisis is transforming HR

Employers should consider candidates with a genuine passion for sustainability when recruiting for sustainability-related roles, suggested Jonathan Firth, vice president of recruitment for HR solutions provider LHH.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “When recruiting for sustainability-related positions, employers should actively seek candidates with a demonstrated passion for sustainability, whether that's through relevant experience, education or extracurricular involvement. 

“Candidates who lack certain skills but can demonstrate commitment to ongoing learning and adaptability to evolving sustainability challenges should not be forgotten during the recruitment process."

Indeed's survey, conducted by Censuswide, also revealed that one in five jobseekers were put off applying to sustainability roles as employers’ sustainability credentials did not match their claims. This was mirrored by one in five employers who cited a fear of being perceived as greenwashing as the reason they had not recruited for sustainability jobs.

Firth explained that employers should communicate their commitment to sustainability throughout the hiring process, to avoid appearing as if they are greenwashing.

He said: “Employers can signal their commitment to sustainability by providing transparency about the organisation's sustainability initiatives, achievements and future plans, and integrating this into every stage of the hiring process. 

“This includes incorporating sustainability criteria into job descriptions and interview questions to ensure alignment with the company's values and goals.”

Read more: Commitment to sustainability boosts employee engagement

A survey by employee experience platform Culture Amp found that companies perceived by employees to have a genuine commitment to sustainability had a 16% higher engagement rate than those that did not. Culture Amp's survey was published earlier this month.

Firth added that HR should offer employees opportunities to be involved with sustainability throughout their career: “Offering opportunities for professional development and involvement in sustainability projects can further reinforce the organisation's dedication to environmental stewardship and social responsibility,” he added.

Kennedy also noted the importance of remote positions in encouraging people to enter sustainability roles.

He continued: “Employers should be open-minded to remote work to open doors for more people to enter the sector. Currently, 42% feel that their location significantly holds them back.

“Ultimately, supporting more people into sustainability roles will not only meet the needs of the growing job market but also strengthen the UK's efforts towards net zero.”

Indeed commissioned Censuswide to survey 1,047 UK employees and jobseekers as well as 500 employers in the UK, between 9 April 2024 and 11 April 2024.