In the midst of tough economic times, more companies strive for efficiency and productivity.
Individuals employed in Canada’s developing sustainability sector are becoming key players in helping businesses balance those goals with the eco-friendly demands of their clients.
“There is a heightened consumer or pubic awareness of environmental issues,” says Michael Kerford, vice-president of ECO Canada.
“Often, people know what the environment is as an issue, but don’t translate that into employment opportunity.”
The Calgary-based company, founded in 1992, provides resources for job hunters, employers, teachers and students who are interested in environmentalism and sustainability. Currently, Kerford says ECO Canada operates one of the largest environmental job boards in the country.
He also says that its membership has reached more than 100,000 people. This all points to an increasing interest in green careers.
“With the environment being a key issue ... it is impacting how companies are doing business,” says Kerford. “Inevitably, that greening of the company is creating environmental work.”
Although Kerford says the hiring of people in this industry may slow down because of the recession, he says the diversity of positions available will only continue to grow.
Diana McKenzie, program leader for the Centre for Sustainability at the University of British Columbia, says sustainability is no longer seen as a trend. It is instead viewed as a viable career path for those who want to make a difference.
“It’s becoming part of all institutions, both private and public,” she says.
Launched in January, UBC’s continuing education sustainability management program filled up quickly. In the fall, it will also begin a con-ed certificate program on decision making for climate change.
McKenzie says both courses will help students understand the concepts of sustainability and environmentalism and how they can be applied in the working world.
“It’s one thing to read a book on sustainability, but how do you actually take those concepts and integrate them into your business plan?” she says.
This fall, Gavin Trevelyan will be among the first group of students enrolled in Ryerson University’s new sustainability certificate program at the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education. He says he’s excited to learn more about sustainability issues.
“It’s about the opportunity to make a living doing something that you can have a good night’s sleep about,” says Trevelyan. “It’s an attractive idea as opposed to just doing something conventional.”