Allen & York Ltd

Environmental careers & salary survey

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Courtesy of Allen & York Ltd

Allen & York, international leaders in sustainability recruitment, have come together with Environment Analyst an expert in market intelligence for the environmental sector, to produce the UK’s most comprehensive Environmental Careers & Salary Survey. 2,500 UK environmental professionals completed an online survey including questions relating to career satisfaction, future prospects, changing jobs and coping with the economic downturn. At the same time a cross-section of Allen & York candidates (22,000 individual records) were analysed with reference to salaries, regional trends, length of service, gender differences and other aspects of their jobs.

Consequently, this survey provides the most accurate record to date of average real salaries across the environmental services industries, together with a snapshot of how the environmental industry is coping with the recession and the current state of the environmental profession.

Following more than a decade of virtually uninterrupted growth in demand for environmental specialists in the UK – with skills shortages and salary hikes exacerbated by the fierce competition for talent – the economic downturn has prompted a sea change in the environmental jobs market.

It has been a well documented tough year for British environmental consultancies, particularly those with a heavy reliance on corporate due diligence, contaminated land and services to the property/construction sector. Most of the big name consultancies have shed jobs, although some used the opportunity to restructure and streamline their business, and moving forward will be stronger for it.

Allen & York’s Business Manager, Joe Heppenstall, comments that some of the best consultancy firms have been able to soak up the downturn in certain areas by redeploying staff around their other projects or locations.

Allen & York’s current list of openings includes a proportion of vacancies from overseas, which continues to increase. They have seen many of their key clients looking to spread their wings internationally, rather than hunkering down and shelving developments. Several of the larger UK-based environmental consultancies have opened up remote offices in the wider European Union, Middle East and even further afield, and Allen & York are recruiting into these area, using their well established, worldwide network of candidates.

While the UK industry may be more depressed, it is far from being all doom and gloom with certain environmental skills still in great demand in spite of the recession. “The clearest opportunities in the ‘green space’ are in energy management and renewable generation,” says Heppenstall.

“The agenda for companies to reduce their cost burden through better utility management has led to the creation of many new roles over the last year of which energy managers have been prevalent,” he adds, lending credence to the theory that the downturn could actually help deliver the switch towards a low-carbon economy.

On the renewables side, the ‘Round three’ offshore developments have kept developer teams busy and the previous work is still buzzing throughout the consultancies, with environmental impact assessment (EIA), ecology and specialist wind farm expertise all highly desirable in last six months.

From Allen & York’s perspective, demand for environmental professionals has “remained overwhelmingly more consistent” through the recession in the corporate/industrial environmental management sector than in consultancy and many firms have strengthened in-house teams during this time.

Allen & York also see increasing opportunities in the public sector, despite government plans to reduce spending, as organisations up their measures and controls “to ensure the environmental governance service we enjoy is nearing the top of the tree in Europe.” This trend appears set to continue with the arrival of the Carbon Reduction Commitment in 2010.

The UK’s environmental workforce is naturally distributed between five key sectors: the corporate world, dedicated consultancies, the public sector, NGOs and other environmental industries (such as water, waste management and contracting firms). This survey reveals how individuals and their employers across the five main sectors are thinking at the moment and gives an insight into their thoughts for future career moves.

56% of participants are more cautious about moving jobs now compared with twelve months ago. That said, a still significant proportion (26%) of survey respondents are looking to move to a new employer within the next year.

“There is a perception that those in the public sector are paid much less than consulting but that really has not been true for some years now,” argues Joe Heppenstall. “It’s also great to see that the north/south divide in sustainability terms is limited.”

According to an analysis of the current salaries of candidates seeking employment through Allen & York, the average for those working in London was £32,500 compared to around £30k for the northern regions of England, Scotland and Wales.

While it may take the environmental consultancy sector at least another year or two to recover to pre-recession levels, there is genuinely good reason to be optimistic for the mid-to-long term prospects for consultancy and the wider environmental services industry.

Allen & York echo the optimism of the survey respondents: “The investment potential remains strong for the sector and the low-carbon and environmental goods and services offered will only become more diverse requiring a greater skill set and more support.” says Heppenstall.

“Undoubtedly the energy side of the industry, carbon management and renewables will play a large role in the future of the industry,” and we await the announcements following the Cop15 global climate negotiations in December.

In recent weeks the mood has changed amongst Allen & York’s clients. Consultancies seem to have had a number of high profile tenders accepted and operating on a leaner workforce means they are now looking to recruit to support this work. This is not the end of the downturn, but still it is good to see that some have turned the corner.

Allen & York and Environment Analyst would like to thank the many thousands of environmental professionals who have helped us with our survey and given us an honest, accurate assessment of their current career status and salaries

The 2009 Environmental Professionals Career and Salary Survey is available in a free-to-download “Employees’ Edition” - http://environment-analyst.com/sample

While the full report and dataset presented in an “Employers’ Edition” is available at a discount rate of £48 to Environment Analyst Market Intelligence Service subscribers and £59 to non-subscribers - http://environment-analyst.com/survey

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