The next government should expand its focus on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects to include sustainability, according to 88% of IEMA members.
The finding came in the latest pre-election poll by IEMA. Almost all respondents (96%) also want the incoming government to commit to delivering a cross-sector sustainability skills strategy, with the aim of embedding environment and sustainability in all education and training schemes.
The survey results reinforce IEMA’s 2014 research, which was published in its Preparing for the perfect storm report. It found that just 13% of organisations are fully confident they have the right skills to compete in a sustainable economy.
Over 95% of respondents to the latest pre-election poll believe it is important that sustainability issues have stronger prominence in both the national curriculum and the lifelong learning frameworks, which have been developed for the UK workforce.
The same proportion also said that the next government must do more to drive the transition to a sustainable economy by including a requirement for sustainability competence and capabilities in public procurement contracts.
Organisations that embed sustainability skills into their business are rewarded with financial savings from the efficiencies implemented by environment and sustainability professionals, and through the creation of new market opportunities, argues IEMA.
Josh Fothergill, IEMA’s lead on skills for a sustainable economy, said the next government had a responsibility to set clear expectations, guidance and frameworks for sustainability skills. Failure to do this in the next parliament will mean the UK will be behind other nations who are leading on this, perhaps permanently.