Sustainable Careers for School Leavers

Sustainability is complex, but it’s generally thought of as: "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Sustainability in businesses is important for the future, both in terms of the environment but also the sustainability and quality of human lives. For the environmentally or socially conscious school leaver, there are now more and more opportunities to work in sustainability itself, or in a company which makes it a priority.

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Sustainable Fashion

The fast fashion industry is currently one of the most polluting industries in the world – second only to oil. The process of sourcing a garment from raw and natural resources, mass-producing it in a factory, and then shipping it internationally – only to be discarded a few months later – is a dirty process. 

Reevaluation of the fashion industry has started at the top. Redress engages with industry leaders and consumers alike, encouraging new designers to brainstorm cleaner, more ethical fashion options. The company also serves as an umbrella for boutiques, designers and sellers in major cities such as London, Hong Kong and Singapore, providing sustainable shopping guides for each.

Redress combines marketing, journalism and campaign work in an attempt to establish sustainable fashion as normal, rather than a minor aspect of the industry. For those interested in marketing, fashion design and creative production, there are roles available at every stage of the supply chain, from changing attitudes through campaigns, to working with ethical fashion retailers.

For school leavers looking to make it into the world of fashion, the Fashion Retail Academy has a lot of short courses and full-time courses for all abilities. There are also many apprenticeships you could undertake in the fashion industry.

 

Agriculture

On the surface, it’s hard to see what’s wrong with farming – but industrial agriculture is now crippling our planet. Pesticides and fertilizers are widely used, and animals are mass-reared. All of these produce harmful waste, polluting soil and water.

While farming needs to change, humans need to eat. There are lots of ventures which combine agriculture with environmental research – such as Fai in Oxford – in order to develop more sustainable methods of food production. Fai makes animal welfare and disease solutions a priority – they work with companies such as McDonalds, the Co-op and Ikea and offer on and off-farm training for businesses looking to find sustainable farming solutions.

If you are a school leaver wanting to work in agriculture, you can apply for agriculture apprenticeships or environmental conservation apprenticeships.

 

Sustainability Consultancy

Most big names in consultancy provide sustainability consultancy now: PwC and KPMG both offer solutions to businesses seeking them. As businesses grow, so does – unavoidably – the spaces they need to operate, the electricity and utilities they use, and if the business is lucky, it develops international links. Managing all of this as well as maintaining an eco-friendly, ethical approach is difficult.

As a result, a few specialist sustainability consultancy firms have been established. They tackle everything from architecture to supply chain management and carbon footprinting. It’s like traditional risk assessment with a focus on all things green and ethical. The existence of such companies means that sustainability is becoming more than just a marketing buzzword. Those wanting to enter the industry could either do so as part of a major consultancy firm, or by working for a specific sustainability consultancy firm.

 

Ecotourism

Tourism is the worlds largest industry, yet conventional tourism can often mean air travel, capitalisation of landmarks and clearing of wildlife. Ecotourism offers an alternative, merging conservation, respect for local communities, and education about their culture. There is a network of businesses that support ecotourism and sustainability. Thompson and First Choice have an eco traveler programme which provides education in schools, and pledges to respect the destinations it has links with. It’s possible to enter the company via their own apprenticeship programme, or after completing a travel and tourism apprenticeship.

 

And the rest

While it is of course possible to go into a sustainable consultancy firm, fashion house, or ecotourism venture, there are also a lot of big names in the job world who include sustainability in their main values, and function with the planet’s future in mind. PwC’s London office is dubbed the most sustainable building in the world, and a career in engineering could lead to renewable energy development. Most companies have a ‘values’ or ‘sustainability pledge’ page on their website, and you can get a sense of how dedicated a company is to being green by checking out any awards won or campaigns supported.

 

While it is of course possible to go into a sustainable consultancy firm, fashion house, or ecotourism venture, there are also a lot of big names in the job world who include sustainability in their main values, and function with the planet’s future in mind. PwC’s London office is dubbed the most sustainable building in the world, and a career in engineering could lead to renewable energy development. 

While it is of course possible to go into a sustainable consultancy firm, fashion house, or ecotourism venture, there are also a lot of big names in the job world who include sustainability in their main values, and function with the planet’s future in mind. PwC’s London office is dubbed the most sustainable building in the world, and a career in engineering could lead to renewable energy development. Most companies have a ‘values’ or ‘sustainability pledge’ page on their website, and you can get a sense of how dedicated a company is to being green by checking out any awards won or campaigns supported.

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