What do you need to start your green career? Taking short courses is often sufficient

The increasing urgency to consider, protect and conserve the environment has produced a powerful and fast-growing Green workforce

The Green Industry has experienced some of the fastest growth compared to other industries in the last decade, as a result green jobs have been in increasingly high in demand. The global population now recognises that it is imperative to consider the environment and many recognise the value of working towards a fulfilling and meaningful goal by starting a green career. In light of this incredible growth and ever-growing demand for green-collar jobs, new university degree programmes have been introduced that equip students with the skills and knowledge needed for a wide variety of green careers. The University of Cape Town, the University of Stellenbosch and Wits University—to name just a few—all offer Master’s degrees in the field of Renewable Energy, Climate Change, Sustainable Development or Architecture with a specialisation in Sustainable and Energy Efficient Cities. However, what options are available for those who want to start a green career but have already received their tertiary education and qualifications?

Transitioning to the Green Industry mid or late career without starting over completely – it’s possible

Short courses are the best option for those who would like to transition to the green industry and who already have established careers or qualifications in another field. Short courses allow professionals to consolidate their existing skill-set and enable them to transition to a new career without starting over completely and accepting the drastic wage reduction of an entry-level position.

Stanley Schatt, author of the book ‘Paint Your Career Green – Get a Green Job without Starting Over’, provides valuable guidance to ease the transition for exactly this group of people. In his book, Schatt emphasises the value of certified courses that offer training in short timeframes. The book also provides a wealth of practical advice and guidance, including the importance of utilising various networking platforms and funding options—all of which make the transition to the green sector not only manageable but also profitable mid or late-career.

An article by The Guardian entitled ‘Change career by going green’ adds to this by explaining that as the demand and availability of “green-collar” jobs is growing, so more and more professionals from other sectors are looking to make the shift to a green career. The article reveals that more than one third of members of the Institute of Environment & Assessment (IEMA) transitioned into the environmental field from other unrelated sectors, including; engineering, construction, manufacturing and IT. The article elaborates on specific individuals’ stories and the way in which short courses helped them make the transition. It also provides additional guidelines for starting a green career.

Short courses, but long term benefits
Short courses provide practical and relevant training that can be applied straight away and that can add value in a variety of different roles—all in a fraction of the time of full-time, longer-term options. Short courses are also more affordable, condensed and easy to enrol in and complete. Completing short courses also helps build one’s C.V and can significantly shape and direct one’s career, this holds especially true for accredited courses with industry recognition such as SETA accredited courses or courses that provide participants with Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Points. Participants of short courses are able to develop specialised and cutting-edge skills and can

“up-skill” their qualifications by gaining new, relevant and innovative green skills or knowledge, thus allowing working people to grow, reinvent themselves and change their specialisations while still meeting the demands of their current job. In fact, by completing short courses, employees are able to mould their existing career into a greener one. As companies are required to become “greener” in order to comply with regulations, remain competitive or achieve improved efficiency, they are constantly required to restructure and improve themselves. As the company recognises the changes it needs to make, so too employees need to add to their skills and knowledge to adapt to the changes. This not only prevents stagnation in one’s job but it also allows employees to fill the growing gap of green skills at their company.

Short courses are a valuable tool to shift your career in a new direction

A recent participant of two Terra Firma Academy courses exemplifies exactly this kind of shift toward “greening” one’s existing career. Maanda, a graduate intern at Lafarge, recently completed both the Energy Efficiency Management and Carbon Footprint Analyst courses. Having studied Geology and Environmental technology, Maanda’s career aspirations—and his initial role at Lafarge—focused largely on the environmental aspects in mining. His role, despite being environmentally focused, was therefore not necessarily “green”. This all changed however after an incident in which Maanda identified a water problem at a company site. Rectifying the problem inspired Maanda to duplicate the results with wastage of other valuable company resources, namely energy. Consequently, Maanda enrolled in Terra Firma’s Energy Effieincy Management (EEM) course. Giving feedback on the course, Maanda explained that the practical skills and extensive knowledge gained on the course have enabled him to identify possible projects that could be that would increase cost savings, improve sales and have a positive effect on the environment.

Lafarge is an industry leader dealing in construction materials and therefore has a significant impact on the environment. Environmental considerations and compliance are therefore critical for the company’s future and competitive advantage. As a result, Maanda’s supervisor recognised the need to calculate and report on the company’s carbon footprint. Since no-one currently had the necessary skills to successfully fill this role, Maanda saw the opportunity to fill the gap and enrolled in Terra Firma’s Carbon Footprint Analyst course. Maanda explained that the course provided him with tangible skills that he can apply to calculate a carbon footprint, going forward Maanda will play a central and valuable role in helping Lafarge calculate, disclose and reduce its carbon footprint.

While Maanda, is just one example of an ambitious employee with the initiative to green his career with short courses, thousands have made taken this valuable step. In doing so, they demonstrate to their employers that they are driven, capable and model employees—thus ensuring their future is not only greener but also a lot brighter.