Inspiring the next generation of sustainability leaders

16 Sep 2022

With 200,000 professional staff worldwide, the environmental and sustainability consulting industry has the expertise and knowledge needed to deliver a transition to a zero carbon, sustainable economy. With the sector currently facing an unprecedented demand for consultancy services, there is now an urgent need to attract the next generation of professionals.

What is the Sustainability Delivery Group?

The Sustainability Delivery Group is an initiative from Environment Analyst, aimed at harnessing the environmental and sustainability consultancy sector’s potential to deliver sustainability goals. As part of this group, the Early Careers Advisory Board (ECAB) was formed to generate a culture of cooperation and coordination between environmental and sustainability consulting firms to tackle the skills shortage and attract more young professionals into the industry. Delta-Simons’ Senior Environmental Transaction Services (ETS) Consultant, James Bickle, joined the ECAB in 2021 and is now deputy chair, playing a key part in helping the group to inspire the next generation of sustainability leaders, as well as promoting diversity and inclusion within the sector. 


The Early Careers Survey

James was recently involved in compiling and publishing the findings of a survey targeted at early careers professionals from the environmental and sustainability consultancy industry, to get a snapshot of demographics, career entry routes, job satisfaction, and motivations of those working within the industry. The findings were then presented at the Environment Analyst UK Business Summit in June. Commenting on the survey, James said:

“The survey gives us an idea of the current demographic, an important perspective on what matters most to early careers professionals working for the industry, and helps us to identify areas where, as an industry, we’re doing well, or could improve.”

 The results of the survey are available in full here and some key findings are included further on in this article. 


Video Interviews

In addition to the Early Careers Survey, James has also been involved in a series of four video interviews around the theme of ‘making a difference’, along with three other environmental consultants from Jacobs, Arcadis and Atkins. These interviews include an insight into their day-to-day life, their future ambitions and what attracted them to the industry in the first place. You can watch the videos here. Commenting on the video interviews, James said:

“These interviews provide an important insight into the inner workings of the industry and how you are able to contribute towards making a genuine difference, even at the early stages of your career. We are in a unique position, we are able to highlight our industry as a genuine way of helping to solve some of the world’s most significant challenges; climate change, biodiversity loss, population increase, and sustainable development. A sense of job purpose and helping to tackle environmental issues ranked highly as personal drivers to joining the sector in the early careers survey, and we need to enable and promote this as much as we can to attract and retain young professionals.”


Diversity and Inclusion

The Sustainability Delivery Group also aims to promote diversity and inclusion within the sector and the early careers survey findings showed that there is still more work to be done to incorporate a more diverse representation amongst early careers professionals in the industry.








What are we doing?

Delta-Simons are proud to be Careers Partner for Black Geographers. This initiative aims to tackle the lack of representation of black people within the geography and environmental sector. Our responsibility as the Careers Partner for Black Geographers is to promote equality, diversity and inclusion internally and across the Environmental Sector. 

We have hosted a series of workshops that included panel discussions to share what we do as a business, what the role of an environmental consultant is, and the variety of disciplines within our different environmental divisions. This was followed by free skills workshops about CVs, covering letters, interviews and using LinkedIn, led brilliantly by Senior Environmental Consultant, Katie Foster. This supported members to apply for placements and prepare them for job applications. We’re looking forward to working with Black Geographers again this academic year. 

We’ve also just launched our first degree apprenticeship which allows those who otherwise may not have the opportunity to go to University, to gain a degree over 5 years whilst in paid employment. Apprenticeship degrees combine study with practical and focused work-based learning and experience, allowing the apprentice to develop workplace knowledge, behaviours and skills, alongside studying for the degree qualification. More on this role can be found here.

Career Entry Routes & Sector Awareness

The survey findings show that most participants became aware of the sector whilst at university, and by conducting their own personal research. A key takeaway here is that more can be done at school and college/sixth form level and through careers talks and events. Graduate Geoenvironmental Consultant, Saskia Elliott has been working hard to fly the flag for the environmental sector through social media and careers talks. Commenting on her social media initiative, Saskia said:

“I’ve been using social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, to share content around geology so that it hits a wider audience, but regularly showing life on site too - whether that be an interesting window sample core or lamenting at a borehole cover full of ants! It’s all about getting curious and showing people what’s around them. The next generation of scientists have phones in their pockets and endless access to content on TikTok or YouTube. If geology and environmental science can entertain and pique the curiosity of people alongside their favourite comedy creators, it normalises the field and can inspire people to see a career option they might never have considered otherwise!”

The environmental and sustainability consultancy industry has an important responsibility to drive change and exert influence on the direction of organisations, both large and small. We’re really proud to have advocates within Delta-Simons who are committed to solving the issues highlighted within the early careers survey and celebrating the great work being undertaken across the sector to inspire the next generation of sustainability leaders.