Where are the gaps in the employment market?

Consultants looking to increase their value to their employers - and therefore their bargaining power - should reflect on the data produced by the Salary Survey.

We asked respondents to tell us which areas within the environmental sector they would consider themselves to be specialists in.

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While this graph offers valuable information even when standing alone – it is interesting to see, for example, that very few consultants consider themselves to be experts in cleaner production while there are plenty out there who know their contaminated land – it really comes into its own when comparing the data it provides with predicted growth areas.

Click the image above to view the full results

By comparing the sectors which employers expect to grow rapidly over coming years with the number of specialists within each of those fields, it is easy to gauge whether a particular area is over-subscribed or – perhaps more importantly – is crying out for experts.

Contaminated land looks like it might be an employers market as, although it is seen as a solid growth area, there is no shortage of specialists willing and able to share their wisdom.

Waste management, on the other hand, looks like a secure and stable specialism – again, there are plenty of professionals with expertise in the field, but as it is seen as the biggest growth area in the whole of the environmental sector there should be no shortage of work out there for the legions of waste managers.

The balance between the number of specialists and expected quantity of work also appears to be about right in the water and wastewater, IPPC, air quality and CSR sectors.

But experts in environmental impact assessment have, according to respondents, the biggest cause for concern as the high number of specialists does not appear to be matched by expectations of growth in the sector, so new opportunities are likely to be less widely available than in some of the other fields.

Cleaner production is an interesting area – while it comes bottom of the table for both expectations of growth and the number of specialists, the scarcity of experts could mean that those few who do know their onions will be able to pick and choose between projects.

But, according to the data, the real winners are likely to be those consultants who specialise in renewable energy, CO2 emissions, climate change and hazardous waste.

In all these areas the potential for profit and need for specialists is far greater than those who say they are experts in this field.

With climate change and the need to tackle it high on the political agenda and becoming an increasing concern for the corporate community, it comes as little surprise that specialists in this area are likely to find themselves much in demand.

The situation with hazardous waste is perhaps a little more difficult to analyze, but it is safe to conclude that changes in waste legislation and the classification of what constitutes hazardous waste will play some role.

It is also possible that the decommissioning of existing nuclear power stations and the need for consultants to look at the safe disposal of waste from any new generation of reactors could also be coming into play here.

One thing is for sure, however – no matter what the specialisation, working in the environmental sector is likely to mean more security and opportunity for career progression than is offered by many other areas.

Respondents to the survey acknowledged that even in those sectors that are not expected to see a meteoric expansion, there will still be a respectable level of growth.

And if you don’t want to take their word for it – ask the Chancellor. In the words of Gordon Brown: “Our economic objectives and our environmental objectives now increasingly reinforce each other.

“In 2010 the global environmental market – clean energy, waste and water – could be worth almost $700 billion – a sector as big as the successful aerospace or pharmaceuticals sectors.”

Sam Bond

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