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Develop green skills to get ahead

The need to tackle global warming has led to the rise of the ‘green’ industry, creating markets and jobs focusing on two areas: renewable energies (focusing on the generation of alternative, cleaner forms of energy) and sustainability.

Companies in the energy sector have begun to divert some of their business efforts to focus on renewables and to invest in R&D and other skills to develop cleaner forms of energy. These include the development and harnessing of other natural sources of energy such as solar, wind and wave power.

Engineers are instrumental in developing technologies to harness these different forms of energy. However, with engineering skills at a premium in the UK, finding engineers in the country with the skills necessary to develop a renewables industry are even harder to resource.


The move to reduce carbon emissions in people’s everyday lives is being driven by the need for European countries to reach EU targets to reduce carbon emissions by 20% from 1990 levels, by 2020. Two sectors taking on a more prominent role in achieving such targets are waste management and building services.

Key skills sought after include:

  • Electrical, cabling, and structural experience for offshore wind and carbon capture and storage
  • Experience of biomass and waste to energy for onshore

Companies need to address their skill shortages through training, so this provides many opportunities for engineers to up-skill in a fast-growing sector.

Waste & wastewater

Although it has previously been perceived as a less than glamorous sector, the waste and wastewater industry has a significant role to play in reaching EU targets and developing a greener approach to waste.

As such, some rubbish collection companies have diversified into offering recycling services. More recycling facilities have also been built as demand for such services increase.

Roles that have developed out of this development include technical positions such as waste management and recycling managers.

Business development and sales jobs have also been created as the recycled materials have a resale value and are a source of profit to recycling companies.

Sought after skills in this sector include business-to-business sales alongside an understanding of engineering.

Building services

Building services professionals play a vital role in reducing the amount of carbon consumed by commercial buildings. As such, building services professionals who have sustainability and energy efficiency skills are much sought after.

Such is the importance of building services in developing energy-efficient buildings and thus potentially saving costs that energy managers are in demand in both the public and private sectors.

Within social housing, the emphasis has moved from ‘Decent Homes’ to the ‘Warm Homes, Greener Homes’ strategy. And in April this year the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme was introduced, to which all public sector organisations must adhere. Fulfilling these initiatives is driving recruitment of sustainability specialists within the public sector.


Energy and sustainability consultants are the most common jobs within energy consultancies, and there is demand for Low Carbon Registered and Low Carbon Energy Assessors.

Energy and environmental design consultancies have also grown in popularity as organisations seek professional advice. As such, those with good knowledge of Part L and technical experience like IES Thermal modelling and HEVACOMP software are actively sought.

Professionals with some experience in building services tend to be preferred over graduates, as they are seen as having a greater understanding of how to integrate renewable and sustainable design into practice.

Your green career

If you wish to focus your career on sustainability then the minimum education required is a higher education qualification in mechanical building services. Beyond this, professionals who have studied low carbon courses can be assessed by CIBSE to qualify for the Low Carbon Consultants Register.

The government’s anticipated investment in green industry should lead to significant growth over time, and it will take some time until the UK is able to provide sufficient engineers and advisors with green skills to cope with demand.

This provides significant opportunities to those that choose to move into the green industry. Search for your next job in the green industry or contact your local office.

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