How UK universities prepare you for a career in sustainability

Studying in the UK can help you develop a rewarding and worthwhile career in a sector such as renewable energy, sustainable investment, ecology and conservation, environmental law, cleaner transportation and many others. Here’s how.

The rise in green jobs

According to Accenture, more than half of young people in Europe and the USA aspire for a job in the green economy within the next 10 years – rising to 77% of those in Asia-Pacific.

And they’re in with a great chance of realising those ambitions: as countries around the world transition towards net-zero economies, sustainability jobs are on the rise.

LinkedIn data shows that worldwide hiring rates for green jobs have outpaced overall hiring rates for the last four years. Sustainability specialists and environmental protection roles are forecast to rise by 33% and 34% respectively – or approximately one million jobs.

And in the UK, official estimates suggest that employment in green jobs rose by 20% between 2020 and 2022.

So how can your UK studies help you get that eco-conscious career you’re dreaming of?

Knowledge and skills

Of course, the most important factor is that your course will give you sought-after sustainability skills, knowledge and qualifications.

There has been a huge rise in degrees with a sustainability focus in recent years at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

And ten of the top 30 global institutions in the QS Sustainability University Rankings 2024 are in the UK.

So whether you want to study sustainable development, data science and AI for sustainability, environmental systems engineering or any other sustainability-related subject, you can be sure you’ll get a top quality education.

Don’t forget – sustainability principles are becoming embedded in education, so you’re likely to learn them in long-established subjects too.

Lorand from Poland studied engineering and manufacturing at UWE, and is now training as an architect. He says: “The UWE course also has a strong focus on sustainability, which sends out a good signal to employers, showing you have an appreciation for one of the key issues for the industry going forward.”

Industry experience

Many courses offer work placements to give you that all-important industry experience. You’ll discover first-hand how modern organisations are rising to the challenge of the transition to net zero, and discover where the skills gaps are that you might be able to fill.

A stint in industry, through a placement or internship, can also open your eyes to environmental careers that you hadn’t previously considered that match your passions and your skillset.

Thinking outside the box

But it’s not just technical skills and subject know-how that’s required.

To tackle issues such as climate change and loss of biodiversity, the world needs creative thinkers, problem-solvers and communicators.

UK universities are excellent places for you to learn these soft skills. No matter what you study, you’ll be encouraged to think outside the box, work as part of a team, and become a resilient leader.

Volunteering and societies

Another way to develop your interest in sustainability, and demonstrate your passion to potential employers, is by taking part in extra-curricular eco-friendly activities.

Your university will have environmental-themed societies to join – or you could start one yourself.

Alternatively, seek out volunteering opportunities, perhaps in conservation. You’ll pick up skills, make a positive impact, and gain something to put on your CV.

Building your sustainable network

Through studying, work placements, volunteering and joining societies, you’ll also meet people who share your passion for sustainability.

It’s really important to make the most of those opportunities to build a network at this stage of your career. They will offer you moral and practical support, encourage you as you get started on the career ladder – and hopefully stay in contact with you throughout your life.

Plus, they’ll alert you to career openings – or maybe even offer you a job!

And don’t forget about social media. You can use it to develop a “green brand” for yourself: showcasing your work and volunteering, and sharing articles on relevant sustainability issues. It’s a great way to connect with like-minded people and demonstrate your growing expertise.

Exciting careers in sustainability

We’d like to share a real-life story from a UK graduate to inspire you!

Lawrence, a UWE graduate from Jordan, now works as a senior systems engineer for Archer, one of the leading companies in the emerging electrical vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) sector.

He says: “I love the fact that I am involved in something that will change the world! These aircraft will revolutionise the nature of flying. They'll reach the stage where they will pick you up near your house, and, as they’re electric, they will be much more environmentally sustainable. It's almost like something from a movie!

“It’s great to contribute to something where, in 10 years or so, I will be able to say, I was one of the first people who worked on this!”

Register with Gradlink

Finally, your university careers service can provide you practical job-hunting support. And at Gradlink, we offer a jobs board, careers advice, a CV builder and more to help you find the right position for you. Register with Gradlink today.

By Q Content Published: Jun 18,2024

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