Government must invest in aligning mainstream education and training systems with environment and sustainability to successfully meet the needs of industry, according to the CEO of IEMA.

“I hear from businesses time and time again that they have the ambition and the foresight to place environment and sustainability at their core,” said Tim Balcon, IEMA’s CEO, “but because of a mismatch between supply and demand for environmental skills - which stems right back to gaps in the curriculum and right through vocational education – they cannot access the right skills at the right scale. I want to see that become a thing of the past.”

Organisations worldwide are becoming increasingly aware of the challenges, risks and limitations of the changing climate and the reality of resource scarcity, making environmental management skills within business not only valuable, but an absolute necessity. Balcon says that the solution is for organisations to “upskill their workforce” by investing in tailored vocational environmental training, ensuring that environmental skills are embedded across the business (in specialist and non-specialist roles) to deliver significant cost savings and environmental improvements. “We need to see some demonstration of leadership here as without collaboration we - business, government, the environment profession, IEMA - will not be equipped to achieve our mutual aim; a robust, sustainable economy.

Balcon’s call to action for green skills comes as IEMA released statistics which reveal how employing practitioners with the right environmental skills, knowledge, expertise and leadership skills means almost one fifth of UK’s largest businesses surveyed are saving over £1m a year each through resource and waste management savings.

Results taken from the 2013 IEMA Resources and Waste Management Survey show that by employing skilled and qualified environment professionals, organisations of all sizes are achieving a range of significant cost savings through taking action to reduce and manage their resources and waste. More than 500 respondents indicated that their company had achieved cost savings such as:

  • Very large companies - 27.5% save over £500,000 per year, 19% of which save over £1M per year for each company.
  • Large companies - over 20% save £100,000 per year, around 18% of them save over £200,000 per year for each company.
  • And with SMEs - 63% save over £5,000 per year for each company, with 44% of them saving over £10,000 per year.

IEMA’s Call to Action on Green Skills

IEMA’s Call to Action will be launched at a Parliamentary event (hosted by Joan Walley MP - Chair of the Environmental Select Committee) on 5th November in partnership with City and Guilds and sponsored by Ricoh. At this event IEMA is assembling UK business leaders, skills experts and MPs together in Westminster to kick-start this crucial green skills collaboration.

In response to rising demand for skilled environment practitioners, IEMA has also mapped out the environmental skills and knowledge across all levels of experience and responsibility in organisations. IEMA’s “Environmental Skills Map - a framework of knowledge and skills for the environmental practitioner” defines the career path for an environmental practitioner, and the competencies required to deliver sound business strategies that have environment at the heart of decision-making and deliver business benefits. This together with IEMA’s All Jobs Greener - workforce-wide universal environmental training - enables companies to capitalise on the business and environmental benefits of putting environmental thinking at the heart of their business strategies.