Jobs are booming

By Tina Perinotto

Here’s some gossip.

Grocon in the market for a sustainability manager to assist Brian Moore who has recently taken on the role of national sustainability leader. Not as big news as Westfield appointing a former Greenpeace member to a similar role late last year. But Grocon is not alone.

The employment market is hopping with jobs in the sustainability and environmental field.

While the coal industry bleats about its diminishing prospects in full page newspaper ads, Seek.com.au shows there is a small explosion in green jobs under way.

In current listings, it shows 2764 jobs ads that contain the word “environmental” and 1366 jobs containing the word “sustainable”. Career One has 720 and 338 in equivalent fields.

Even the recruiters are recruiting.

“Establish yourself in a new sector – Green Jobs”, says Michael Green of Bradman Recruitment.

It’s getting harder to fill positions. One lucrative sustainability manager position worth $200,000 with a Sydney based company is still going begging months after we first ran it in our People and Jobs section.

In a quiet sub-boom still to be widely identified and which will have massive economic spin-offs, the federal government has spawned demand for a small army of domestic sustainability consultants to help facilitate its interest-free home loans to households, through its Green Home Loans program.

That’s everything from solar hot water to insulation and any number of water and energy saving devices. Maybe even new energy efficient fridges, according to one Melbourne householder who said this request was being considered.

Lining up for the gig are companies such as Green Home Green Planet, whose chief operator Phil Thompson on Monday told The Fifth Estate it had been registered just 10 days, but is part of a large Canadian company, The Third Ring, that has boomed on the back of a similar Canadian strategy so comes armed with experience.

“We’d be happy with 10 assessors,” said Thompson.

Another home grown variety in this business is Green Home Loans Pty Ltd, headed by Tom Buckley, a former commercial real estate agent.

Buckley is heading up operations on behalf of founders Mark Denyer, Steven Hutchesson and his father, Mick Buckley, all of whom have energy backgrounds in gas and electricity.

How many assessors is Buckley after?

About 15 for now.

“We need people in Melbourne, in pockets of Sydney and south-east Queensland, the north coast of NSW, and a few other places,” he says.

“We already have a batch of 20 people trained up and ready to go. And we’re wanting a batch of 15 or so every month or two.”

According to Buckley there are plenty of competitors in the market – “we certainly know of five or so”- but the majority of assessors are individuals who will find the going tough without the backbone of a business structure, he says.

Pull this picture together and you can see some major spinoffs for green industries.

Pressure at the top

At the top end of the business pile the pressures are also looming larger in a push/pull scenario. Push, from the mandatory disclosure rules and energy efficiency requirements coming next year, pull, from the growing urgency to avoid looking like a dinosaur before your clients and stakeholders.

According to business insiders, the arrival of the carbon trading scheme will be a much bigger impact on jobs and business than many people expect.

(Watch too, the space in the voluntary carbon credit market for another big potential impact).

In the words of Brian Moore, Grocon’s move to formalise its sustainability agenda with his new title and the establishment of a new department, is about staying ahead of regulatory pressures such as mandatory disclosure due to take effect next July.

“A lot of people I’m sure will obviously record their emissions through simplistic things like keeping their bills but we want to take this one step further…seeing what we can do to reduce things.

“We want to do a full carbon assessment of the business, what we’re using, how we can do it and reduce our emissions so we want to do a full audit,” Moore told The Fifth Estate.

“So that will mean doing comparisons – for instance what will it mean to have an electric crane rather than a diesel crane?”

“We’re interested in having all this information because of the types of tenants we’re looking for in our buildings and the types of clients we want to work with, who are also taking a responsible approach.

How does Moore feel about abandoning his former role as design manager NSW?

At first, he says, “That concerned me, to be frank. I’m interested in the design of buildings, but I don’t see sustainability as separate from design.”

In fact, says Moore, there is a strong and growing feeling that the two things – sustainability and architecture should not be separate. And that perhaps sustainability awards should be dropped altogether.

“This has been a big focus at the Institute of Architects within the sustainability group – that all projects should prove they are sustainable before they can enter an award.”

See his forthright article on the reasons architects have lost ground to sustainability consultants in Spinifex.

And speaking of architecture and awards, see a rare insight into the award judging process for architecture, through the eyes of NSW juror Genevieve Lilley.

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tperinotto@thefifthestate.com.au