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Career Advice /skills in demand: Continuing a trend identified in last year’s survey (see ENDS Directory 2005, pp 7-14), organisations are generally increasing their environmental personnel base, whether they have large or small teams. On average, 46% of employers are reported to be expanding environmental teams, versus 12% who are downsizing. The remainder are reported to be stable.
In terms of the most highly sought-after skills, waste management is top of their employers’ wish lists, according to around 60% of our survey respondents (see Table 1). This is closely followed by pollution prevention and control (IPPC), general environmental management, contaminated land and EIA/planning skills.

As one of the biggest single employers of environmental professionals with around 11,500 staff in England and Wales, the Environment Agency faces a tough challenge in terms of staffing issues. A spokesperson for the Agency told ENDS: “There are national difficulties in recruiting civil engineers, planners and geoscience technical specialists. Our latest [recruitment] campaign is for flood defence team leaders, technical specialists and team members – we have advertised around 400 positions this year. The next largest volume requirement is for environment [inspection and enforcement] officers – typically, we recruit about 200 per year.”

The Agency believes that the civil service benefits package on offer, including a final salary pension scheme, flexible working and generous holiday entitlement, aids both recruitment and retention of existing staff. But it acknowledges that “skills shortages and the lack of graduates studying certain disciplines means that we need to find innovative ways of attracting and retaining good people.”

A couple of years ago, the Agency was very concerned about the lack of flood engineering specialists graduating from university. It decided to introduce a bursary scheme that sponsored flood risk management students at the University of the West of England on a foundation degree course, which includes a work placement with the Agency and the possible offer of a full-time job. The scheme has been “very successful,” reports the Agency. It plans to develop it further, potentially into other environmental disciplines.

Graduate Opportunities and Outlook: … (full long text).

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