IEMA reveals new Practitioner level and career path

13th June 2016

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Raphael Eduk Antai

IEMA has launched its new membership structure and skills map, developed in response to the urgent need for environment and sustainability professionals to tackle a growing series of global challenges.

For the first time, IEMA has formally embedded sustainability principles, such as human rights, disruptive innovation and education, into each of its professional standards.

The body has created a new membership level, Practitioner, to ensure IEMA members have a clear and continual career path that they can navigate by taking manageable steps rather than huge strides. It has also updated its skills map to become an interactive competency development tool.

The changes to the membership structure broadened the relevancy and attractiveness of IEMA membership to benefit those currently outside the environment and sustainability profession. From students, who recognise that sustainability will become a key part of any future role, to chief executives, who know their organisation must upskill to survive, becoming a part of the alliance of professionals means new opportunities to learn, contribute and connect, IEMA said.

Tim Balcon, chief executive of IEMA, said that mobilising those with environment and sustainability skills is critical to the future survival of businesses: ‘The fact that the world is changing is undeniable. Businesses everywhere are having to adapt to secure their own survival. Arming themselves with the right sustainability skills across their operations is the only viable way to go. In order to support organisations everywhere to survive and remain future-proof, IEMA has changed. We are leading the profession and we supply the right skills to business.’

IEMA has abandoned the ‘ladder’ approach to membership traditionally used by professional bodies in favour or a constantly moving journey, which involves continual learning, development and collaboration towards the next steps.

The new Practitioner level bridges the gap between the practical and compliance focused Associate membership, and the more managerial Full membership level. There had previously been a perceived gulf in the levels of experience and skill demonstrated between these two membership levels.

Feedback from a number of employers indicates that the language used to explain what Practitioners membership stands for appeals to them as it captures the desired level of competency and experience mid-career professionals would bring to their business. The new level has the PIEMA suffix and is pitched at environment and sustainability professionals working to drive change.

IEMA is also recognising the years of learning and career trajectory of Graduates. For the first time this early career membership grade is being awarded formal professional recognition with the GradIEMA suffix.

The changes were inspired by a 2013 consultation with environment and sustainability professionals and industry stakeholders.

IEMA’s two Perfect Storm reports from 2014 and 2016 outline and update on the global sustainability megatrends that are bearing down on businesses and forcing organisations to radically upskill with the right environment and sustainability competencies. Depleted resources, volatile energy costs, increasing climate change threats, population growth, issues around ethical sourcing, and equality issues all threaten the future sustainability and prosperity of business, the organisation said. Skilled and experienced environment and sustainability professionals are crucial if organisations are to meet these 21st century challenges and prosper, it added.

To find out more about the new membership journey and to tour the new interactive skills map, visit IEMA's new website, Also see a special feature in this month's training supplement. Click here for the interactive skills map.


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