Climate change is one of the most profound challenges of modern times. So why is it that there is such a serious shortage of greenhouse gas experts, climate-change strategists, and professionals in the field? After all, climate change will certainly affect all of our lifestyles and the way we do business. And while it’s undoubtedly important to develop rigid, international standards for greenhouse gas monitoring and management, it’s equally as important to have skilled workers in place to ensure these standards are put into practice correctly.
I myself was rounding up my biology studies at university just four months ago when I came across a company called ClimateCHECK. They were recruiting for positions in greenhouse gas management, although I really didn’t have much of an idea of what that entailed. Would I be dangling on top of a smoke stack measuring emissions? Thankfully, that was not the case. I thought to myself, “Hey, this could be a good opportunity. I mean, what better time to get involved in the sector. If carbon markets blow up or the right legislation comes into play, I might just be in an ideal position”. So why is it that many other people fail to see this? Could it be that many business-savvy individuals, scientists and legislative heads don’t want to step out of their comfort zone? Part of me thinks this might be the case, although it’s just a small part of the equation.
All too often, when it comes to climate-change strategy, businesses might think “That’s for the scientists and policy-makers to figure out, I’ve got to meet my quarterly targets”. Well unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you want to look at it, that environmentally conscience part of your clientele might just be the majority given recent consumer trends. In a survey of Canadian consumers, 40 percent said they would pay a premium for enviro-friendly products, whereas another 40 percent said they would buy the green products if they didn’t have to spend more. Surely it’s time to start looking at being “carbon responsible” now that your customers are starting to pay attention. And although many people will be quick to point their fingers at big multinational corporations, they are often the first to realize the importance and benefits of becoming green.
To effectively combat climate change we will need business savvy individuals. The type of people who will not only be able to turn green practices into green paper, but more importantly, be able to effectively communicate science and greenhouse gas management principles in what is often an aggressive business environment.
One of the biggest challenges facing the clean energy sector is finding executives to drive growth, a recruiting problem that 95% of clean-energy firms have described as “serious” (a study by New Energy Finance and recruitment firm Heidrick & Struggles). This highlights the fact that although clean energy, greenhouse gas management, and clean technology companies might be able to fill junior positions, it is often difficult to find talented individuals for the top tier executive positions.
While it might be relatively clear that more professionals are needed, it doesn’t explain why there is a lack of skilled workers in the first place. Could it simply be too early? There were likely few electricians ten years after the discovery of electricity, so how can we expect there to be greenhouse gas experts a decade after climate change has been brought to the mainstream? Or maybe the lack of skilled workers is only perceived and not real? A recent article pointed out an interesting fact; that the lack of skilled workers in the climate-change strategy sector is due to there being no established recruitment structure or employment agencies. Maybe there really are more candidates than jobs, but it is difficult to find them.
Whatever the reason for a lack of skilled professionals, one thing is clear, we need interested technically oriented individuals, policymakers, and high-level executives alike to step up to the plate. It’s time for these types of people to consider sporting a green suit. Anybody familiar with how greenhouse gas markets, climate-change legislation, and business opportunities have developed over the past few years would likely agree that all three of these personalities are required to make real headway. Don’t be afraid to jump on the green band wagon. It might just be a great choice. Why not help the planet and make a modest buck doing it? The options are out there.