Spring into green jobs


Scientist and worker looking at soil samples
Scientist and worker looking at soil samples

It’s May and job-seekers are gearing up for a brand new season of spring and summer work.

What is the current economic climate like for environmental job-seekers? In ECO Canada’s latest study, Careers in Sustainability, we found that 84% of sustainability consulting firms and 46% of other sustainability employers are planning to hire in the next 3 to 5 years. This adds up to over 4,000 new jobs in the sustainability sub-sector alone.

And, in ECO’s 2010 Profile of Canadian Environmental Employment, it was determined that 100,000 retirement vacancies will be created over the next decade and 44% of environmental employers planned to hire over the next 2 years. In more general terms, a Manpower Employment Outlook Survey of 1,900 Canadian employers revealed that 20% plan to increase their payrolls in 2013’s second quarter.

New post-secondary graduates, transitioning workers, and internationally-trained environmental professionals each have unique strengths they can use to their best advantage on the job hunt.

Want to make the most of your job search this season? Here’s how if you’re:

A New Post-Secondary Graduate

If you’ve just completed an environmentally-related post-secondary program, you hold this distinct advantage: a relevant and in-demand skill set. In fact, many graduates have high rates of placement or employment, demonstrating the widespread appeal of fresh skills and new knowledge to prospective environmental employers. CEGEP de St-Félicien’s Techniques du milieu naturel Program boasts a 91% placement rate for its graduates, and Lakeland College’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Management Program had a 93.9% employment rate according to its 2009 graduate survey.

Since many students complete field school, internships and co-op terms, they also offer applied theoretical knowledge to employers who want to know that a job candidate has the ability to apply what has been taught in class.

Last but not least, new post-secondary graduates can turn to academic and professional contacts, such as alumni, fellow graduates, professors, and work experience contacts to establish their professional network and learn about relevant job opportunities.

A Transitioning Worker

If you’re a transitioning worker, you have likely been in the workforce for some time and are now choosing to target an environmental career path.The good news is that you have a number of cross-over skill sets that will transfer well into your new intended industry.

For example, a past communications instructor’s speaking and explanation skills are still deeply relevant for a new role as an environmental communications specialist who builds community awareness of different environmental programs, such as composting.

Transitioning workers can also benefit by approaching their job search with fresh eyes, since lessons learned from previous job searches serve to improve the current job search. For example, understanding how important research and groundwork are to a successful job search, transitioning workers may be more apt to consult resources such as:

    1. ECO Canada’s Research Publications, Labour Market Information (LMI) Reports such as:
      • The Green Jobs Map: Tracking Employment Through Canada’s Green Economy
      • The Green Jobs Map: Supplementary Ontario Report
      • Careers in Sustainability: Current Job Trends and Future Growth
    1. ECO Job Board to find out what skills are in demand and where
    1. Career Profiles to learn more about specific occupations including information about salary ranges, typical work activities, and educational requirements

In addition, if you’re a transitioning worker, you have honed your “professional common sense” through your years in the workforce. You know what it takes to successfully function in the workplace, from what comprises acceptable water cooler conversation topics to how to deal with difficult clients, dress appropriately for the situation and approach upper management.  Believe it or not, many of these seemingly small workplace etiquette rules are the key to long-term career success.

An Internationally-Trained Professional

Internationally-trained environmental professionals approach the environmental job search armed with numerous points in their favour – they simply need an opportunity to prove their professional competence.

Internationally-trained professionals have the added advantage of mid to senior levels of experience in multiple professional roles. As Grant Trump said, “The shortage within the Canadian labour market is not at the entry level (it is) with individuals who have 3 to 10 years of experience.” This is good news as skilled immigrants usually come to Canada as mid to senior level professionals in their field. In addition, newcomers typically have knowledge of multiple roles, which means that they can cast their job search net wider than Canadian professionals who are usually specialists as opposed to generalists (Recruiting, Retaining and Promoting Culturally Diverse Employees (2006), Lionel Laroche).

There’s one additional resource that can help all of the three types of job-seekers. If you’re looking for opportunities to connect with fellow environmental professionals, build industry-relevant skills, and meet potential employers, consider EP Certification.

Postings on the ECO Job Board indicate when an employer prefers to hire a certified EP.

What additional advice can you give to these different groups of job-seekers? What helped you land your environmental job?

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