Force of Nature is an exciting campaign that asks environmental organisations to think differently about how we diversify our workforce and boost the environment sector.

In this blog series, we are asking why it’s important that more young people are supported to be a Force of Nature.

Kirsty Peck, Education Engagement Officer at IEMA discusses how they are stiving to support children and young people across the UK access opportunities in the green sector.

April 2024

IEMA (the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment) is the professional body for over 21,000 sustainability and environment professionals in the UK around the world.

As the green economy grows, there is a green skills gap looming. Demand for green skills globally is growing at twice the rate as the availability of green talent.

If unaddressed, the green skills shortage will compromise efforts to achieve our net zero targets and ensure a just transition away from fossil fuels.  But this also presents a great opportunity.

By tapping into a more diverse array of talent, we fill that skills gap by promoting diversity and inclusion across green economy, ensuring equal access and opportunities for all demographics – including young people.

This is not just about environmental organisations but we can set the example, be they private sector businesses, public sector bodies or the not-for-profit sector.

At IEMA we are deeply invested in the future of the profession and believe that today’s students and graduates are tomorrow’s sustainability leaders and that together, we can give them the best possible start to their green career journey. This must go hand in hand with ensuring equality, diversity, and inclusion within the green sector, which is why we created the ‘Diverse Sustainability’ Initiative’, which works with partner organisations to ensure a more inclusive green workforce.

At IEMA we strive to help equip young people with the expertise and understanding they need to be change-makers and secure a job within sustainability and the environment. We are in a unique position to introduce them to a world of learning and opportunity and guide them towards the best employers, through our Educational Partnerships and our Green Careers Hub, showcasing that green jobs are accessible to everyone, regardless of race, age, location, education, or sexual orientation, and encourage diverse individuals to get into green jobs.

Alongside these opportunities, we also have an IEMA Futures network, which is a collection of students, graduates and early-career professionals who are passionate about environment and sustainability issues. We provide them with a platform to connect, inform, engage and drive progression within the profession. Members of the network are given the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skillset through engaging events, webinars and workshops led by IEMA and leading voices within their fields. Very often we are the first port of call for young people looking to take their first steps into a green career and can provide specific insights and support to help them from the IEMA team and wider experts.

IEMA has also collaborated with Pearson, the digital media learning company, in a new climate change and sustainability initiative aimed at young people. This involves an Edexcel EPQ, generally taken by A-level students, allowing learners to independently focus a research project on sustainability or climate change, and explore creative solutions to issues like food supply, waste, energy and pollution.

Young people are concerned about climate change and environmental degradation, and our partnership will give students a valuable opportunity to gain skills so that they can play their part in the transition to a sustainable future. By equipping the young people of today with the skills and qualifications they need to drive change in the future, we will ensure an ‘all jobs greener’ approach for tomorrow’s workforce as an active part of the solution to the sustainability challenges we face.

We believe that everyone has a part to play in helping to transform the world to sustainability and become ‘forces of nature’ for a better, more sustainable, green world. Together we can drive the changes needed.

IEMA’s CEO Sarah Mukherjee MBE

Notes to Editors

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About New to Nature

New to Nature will offer new, full-time, temporary work placements in nature and landscape organisations across the UK, aiming to increase diversity and enrich the environmental sector.

Funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the celebrations to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the King’s Coronation, the programme will run until September 2024 and will provide paid work placements for at least 95 people, targeting young people from diverse backgrounds to undertake a range of environmental roles.

New to Nature is delivered through a partnership of Groundwork, The Prince’s Trust, Disability Rights UK, and Mission Diverse. We are working closely with the Youth Environmental Service to ensure the programme acts as a stepping stone for a longer-term journey of change in the sector: