As the sustainability sector rapidly expands, the demand for skilled professionals is soaring. Read on to learn about the skill requirements needed in the sustainability service market and how to bridge the talent gap.
In recent years, the world has witnessed a remarkable surge in awareness regarding environmental responsibility and sustainability. This shift in mindset has fueled the growth of the sustainability services market as organizations increasingly recognize the need to adopt eco-friendly practices.
Yet, as the sustainability sector continues to evolve, service providers confront a formidable challenge in the form of a critical shortage of skilled talent. In this blog, we will delve into the pressing talent-related issues faced by sustainability service providers and explore the innovative ways they are addressing these deficiencies through avenues like strategic hiring, acqui-hiring, and upskilling.
The diverse skill set required
The field of sustainability services presents a multifaceted landscape of skills and expertise that are in high demand. For instance, service providers in this sector require professionals who can proficiently handle advanced data analytics to assess environmental impacts. A comprehensive understanding of sustainability reporting frameworks is also imperative, as is the ability to conduct climate scenario analysis and risk assessment.
In essence, the diversity of skill sets required encompasses environmental science, economics, engineering, and a commitment to sustainability that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries.
Challenges in finding talent
As service providers look to recruit skilled sustainability experts, they are finding themselves up against significant roadblocks, including:
- A limited pool of professionals: Sustainability services is a relatively new field, and professionals with the required experience and expertise are scarce
- An evolving landscape: The sustainability sector is continuously evolving, with new technologies and frameworks emerging regularly. This makes it challenging to find candidates who can keep up with the rapidly changing landscape
- Cross-disciplinary requirements: The interdisciplinary nature of sustainability work makes it difficult to find candidates with expertise in all the required areas
Addressing the talent gap
Bridging the talent gap for sustainability services requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses strategic recruitment and upskilling.
- Strategic hiring
Sustainability service providers are looking for candidates who may not have a perfect match of skills but possess a strong foundation and are open to learning and adapting. Most of the sustainability professionals being hired hold a master’s degree, with almost 78% coming from a STEM background.
Everest Group’s GREEN framework provides a comprehensive approach to talent development in sustainability services, addressing geographic considerations, regulatory expertise, educational diversity, practical experience, and technological innovation to meet the increasing demand in this field.
Service providers like Accenture, which have an aggressive inorganic growth philosophy, focus more on acqui-hiring, the practice of acquiring smaller companies primarily to gain access to their talent. It allows providers to quickly expand their workforce and access niche expertise.
However, prioritizing upskilling as a long-term strategy emerges as a more effective approach for tackling the talent gap.
- Upskilling the workforce
Service providers have a multitude of options to support their employees in their upskilling endeavors. These include motivating employees to pursue external certifications, offering internally designed courses, and tying up with learning and development providers.
- Industry-accredited certifications – Sustainability certifications are a testament to a thorough grasp of pertinent industry benchmarks, elevating professionals’ standing within their respective domains. The selection of a certification largely depends on the particular domain of sustainability and the career aspirations of the individual. These certifications could be general sustainability and climate professional certifications, sustainability reporting courses, energy-related certifications, green building certifications, etc.
- Internal courses – Service providers often develop an internal catalog of courses to educate their workforce on sustainability and related aspects. These courses can be aimed at executive leadership, normal workforce, or both. Deloitte offers a curriculum of sustainability training courses available to all its employees virtually and through the network of Deloitte Universities
- Collaboration with educational institutions – By working closely with universities and colleges, they can shape curricula to align with industry requirements, ensuring that graduates are better prepared for the workforce. These partnerships also offer internships and co-op programs that provide students with hands-on experience and job opportunities upon graduation. Capgemini Invent, for example, has leveraged the ESSEC Business School for various courses, including one on the foundations of sustainable transformation
After creating the talent pool required, building the ideal organizational structure becomes imperative for maximizing the potential of the sustainability enablement services talent. The organization can streamline business initiatives by aligning roles, responsibilities, and workflows, enabling seamless collaboration among experts from diverse backgrounds.
To explore the above strategies in detail, check out our viewpoint: A Provider’s Playbook to Bridging the Sustainability Skills Gap. This report sheds light on the sourcing, skilling, and organizational structuring strategies tailored to the unique needs of service providers in the sustainability space. To discuss further or for inquiries, please reach out to Rita Soni, Principal Analyst, Sustainability Research and Impact Sourcing, [email protected], Arpita Dwivedi, Practice Director, Sustainability and Talent, [email protected], or Ambika Kini, Senior Analyst, Sustainability Technology and Services, [email protected].
To hear our takeaways from Cop28 watch our LinkedIn Live session, Building a Sustainable Future: Reflections on COP28 and Insights for 2024.