The Chartered Institution of Waste Management (CIWM) predicts that the waste sector will almost double its workforce by 2017 in recycling alone.

Employment opportunities in waste management have traditionally been within the public sector at local and national government, regulation within the Environment Agency, and the industrial landfill sector within waste disposal companies.

However, with the development of sustainable waste management strategies, focusing on better uses for resources by collecting, sorting, recycling, remanufacturing and refurbishing materials, new opportunities have arisen for employment in the recycling and consulting arena.

Research undertaken by the Waste Management Industry Training & Advisory (WAMITAB) identified a total of 65,000 jobs in waste management, and recycling is one of the main sub divisions continuing to show growth.

Reflecting the waste management industry’s drive to enhance standards of skill and training across the sector, a major initiative is already underway at the Waste Industry National Training Organisation, with the development of a workforce development plan for the waste sector. This highlights relevant priorities for the area and specifies how to achieve greater success for employees and employers.

The heightened demand for waste professionals across the industry means that it is likely that candidates with transferable skills should gain successful employment as experience gained from landfill, power plant and engineering projects can be put to use within newly created opportunities, such as energy-from-waste project management roles.

Chemical engineering and chemical processing skills can be transferred to bioenergy roles, providing the candidate with a move towards the sustainable, renewable energy area of waste management.

And as industry responds with new ways of processing waste, for example anaerobic digestion, professionals with a plant design, construction or an operations background may be able to benefit from this.

Waste management opportunities within the cleantech and clean energy areas are also likely to increase as the UK becomes armed with the funds that can greatly increase the move to a low carbon economy.

Vicky Kenrick is from sustainability recruitment specialist Allen & York

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