The Resources Industry: where skills take centre stage

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Toni Waters, communications and membership officer at the Environmental Services Association (ESA), sets out the case on how waste and resource management has become a vital pillar in the environment sector. And it is screaming out for employees to fill the jobs gap.

When you think of career opportunities in the environmental sector, says Toni Waters, a role in the waste and resource management industry doesn’t really spring to mind does it? Well, you will be surprised to know that in the past 15 years, the waste and resources sector has gone through an incredible transformation.

Historically, the sector has been heavily focused on landfill and logistics, whereas now we have moved towards material processing and the fuel preparation sector. This shift has necessitated a change in skills that are required from the workforce.

The ethos of the sector now is more than just filling a hole in the ground to make money. There is a lot more application of technology, which means that engineering is a key subject for us. Like many sectors across the economy, the demand we have for STEM subjects is growing. And with this demand we recognise that we have to compete with other sectors for the best graduates in these areas.

However, it’s not just engineers that the sector needs. We need chemists, market analysts, and many more. But there will also always be a demand for people at other skills levels. The waste and resource management sector is keen to work with government to introduce new apprenticeships to provide vocational education and employment options for young people. That is why the waste sector is heavily involved in the energy and efficiency industrial partnership which aims to drive a new approach to recruitment, skills and workforce development by facilitating an employer-led approach to the skills agenda in new approaches to training development, delivery and assessment as well as monitoring and measuring compliance.

Skills are incredibly important to the waste and resource management sector. There is a regulatory requirement on operators being able to demonstrate that their staff have the technical competence to work in the sector. This means skills will always be centre stage.