You can tackle climate change as an engineer

5 min read | Paul Gibbens | Article | Career development | Industry insights

tackle climate change

Rising sea levels, loss of biodiversity and extreme weather: there’s no denying that climate change is one of the fundamental challenges facing our society.

Engineers play a vital role in tackling climate change and reducing its devastating impacts, a topic that was a key talking point in our LinkedIn live panel discussion, ‘how we can support the UK’s next generation of engineers’. The panellists were Jon Excell, editor of The Engineer magazine, Elizabeth Donnelly, CEO of The Women’s Engineering Society, and Andrew King, project manager at Otto Simon.

“Engineering is the industry to get into if you care about the environment.” (Donnelly)


Myths about the engineering profession prevail, including misconceptions around the tasks you’ll undertake and the environments you’ll work in. The key role engineers can play in tackling climate change can also be overlooked; you can help create a more sustainable future as an engineer. As Donnelly says, “Engineering is the industry to get into if you care about the environment.”


Professionals care about social and environmental purpose

Professionals are increasingly expecting to see organisations championing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) agendas, and this is influencing their employment decisions. 74% of employees view an organisation’s commitment to sustainability as an important consideration when applying for a new role, according to our latest salary guide.

"Engineering is one of a handful of professions where you can make a difference.” (Excell)


Engineering careers can have a strong social and environmental purpose. “Most people feel pretty powerless when faced with huge issues like climate change: engineering is one of a handful of professions where you can make a difference,” says Excell.

Innovative roles across aerospace, rail, energy and renewables, and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industries offer opportunities to design and operate systems that use resources sustainably.

“The impact that people can have on society as an engineer is significant.” (King)


New, sustainable fuels such as hydrogen, bioethanol, hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) and methanol are being developed – fuels that’ll likely have a major impact on transportation sectors, as well as construction and manufacturing. “The impact that people can have on society as an engineer is significant,” says King.


Reaching net zero targets

We need innovative engineers working across all industries if we’re to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Reaching net zero targets will be particularly challenging in construction given the emissions from embodied carbon, as well as in aviation, where there are ambitious Jet Zero targets. In order to accelerate the transition to a net zero future, we’ll need more engineering specialists to move into skilled green jobs.


Key insights: how you can tackle climate change as an engineer

Become part of the solution to climate change by joining the engineering profession and using your skills to solve complex environmental challenges.

There’s no single route into engineering, so whether you’re a student looking at apprenticeships and university courses, or you’re currently working in another industry and looking to reskill into an engineering jobget in touch today to find out how we can support your career transition into engineering.


About this author

Paul Gibbens, National Specialism Director, Engineering, Hays

Paul began his recruitment career in 2005 before joining Hays in November 2019. Paul is an experienced customer-focused director with extensive knowledge of the nuclear, MOD & defence, oil & gas, rail, power generation, petrochemical, chemical, renewable energy, and manufacturing industries.

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