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Global Economy Facing Environment, Sustainability Skills Deficit

Sustainability SkillsBy 2020 the world economy could be facing a skills deficit driven by mega-trends such as population growth, increasing demand for natural resources, and soaring costs of energy, coupled with the impacts of climate change and ecosystem degradation, according to a report by the Institute of Environmental Management & Awareness.

Although the transition to a sustainable economy presents significant opportunities for business, according to an IEMA survey of over 900 organizations, only 13 percent of companies are fully confident that they have the skills to successfully compete in the sustainable economy.

Key findings of the IEMA study include:

  • Skills to compete — Only 13 percent of companies are fully confident they have the skills to successfully compete in a sustainable economy.
  • Leadership gap — Only 25 percent of leaders and 20 percent of senior managers are fully capable of addressing the sustainability agenda.
  • Funding gap — In 72 percent of organizations, investment in environment and sustainability skills is less than for other disciplines with 63 percent of organizations spending less than £100 ($159) per head on environment and sustainability training each year.
  • Strategic challenge — 65 percent haven’t carried out a strategic evaluation of skills needed to successfully compete in a sustainable economy.
  • Recruitment gap — Over half (53 percent) of organizations are unable to recruit environment and sustainability professionals with the right skills.

However, some businesses are recognizing the issue and collaborating to initiate action on the issue.  Founding supporters of IEMA’s Skills for a Sustainable Economy Campaign include BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, EDF Energy, EY and Saint-Gobain, among others.

According to a survey released last year by Sustainable Plant, demand for sustainability training is on the rise.

In addition, sustainability issues are increasingly relevant to investors as they seek to integrate environmental and corporate responsibility factors in both current and future investment practices, according to research released by PricewaterhouseCoopers earlier this year.

Photo Credit: Businessman via Shutterstock

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