Skip to main content

Finding talent to fulfil your green ambitions

Written by: Gemma Matin and Jon Dilling are Sourcing Leads at Penna
Published on: 21 Apr 2022

Tomorrow – 22 April – marks this year’s Earth Day celebrations; an annual event held to demonstrate support for environmental protection and the climate fightback. More than one billion people in more than 193 countries will be part of this celebration of positive action for the planet. Communities across the UK are now demanding change from their governments.

Local authorities, and their green initiatives, are very much leading the charge for the climate agenda. Two recent examples are Hounslow LBC and Cambridge City Council’s green strategy publications which nod to a need to be actioning greener, more resilient, and more inclusive initiatives.

Across local government, councils are putting together comprehensive plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner. Prior to 2022 local authorities have installed 17,000 electric vehicle charging points and spent just under £40m on flood defences.

Change is most definitely afoot. But the solutions to the climate crisis don’t solely lie in setting the right strategy to work towards key targets; it’s about enticing and recruiting the best talent to deliver key services, projects and strategies. Not just for local government and councils but also organisations within the environmental services business.

So, how do you find the right experts to drive environmental innovation for your authority?

Greener initiatives involve the creation of new roles. For example, ‘environmental strategy officer (climate emergency and environmental strategy)’, ‘green recovery officer’, ‘programme director, climate emergency and green recovery’ – these are just some of the new green roles that Penna has been responsible for recruiting for councils over the last few months. More local authorities are now in need of candidates with a background or understanding of climate change. Finding them is proving a challenge.

These skillsets are niche, hard to find, and candidates possessing them have many organisations competing for their expertise (whether they are actively looking for a new role or not). 

Councils are coming to Penna after finding their ideal candidates are successfully sourced by other sectors paying higher rates. But, as we advise our clients, it’s not all about the money for many potential employees. Your work-life balance, employee benefits, place-based ability to affect real change for local people needs to be brought to the fore when advertising such hard to fill roles.

Additionally, we recommend to clients a mix of traditional and new media recruitment methods to hunt for top talent. A well-thought-out strategic blend of always-on recruitment, high-touch candidate care and print advertising in industry specific publications complements clever content strategies, paid media and strategic candidate retention methods.

Despite climate change not being new, the gravity of its importance has changed. Younger professionals have entered the workplace with a passion and drive to make the changes needed to save the planet. So, councils are finding themselves in a bind; a trade-off happens when sourcing the right candidates for these green jobs. Do authorities gamble and go with the modern candidate who is very climate-focused, but has less experience, perhaps doesn’t even work in the public sector? Or do they stay safe, with a seasoned candidate who has a wealth of professional experience in ‘place’, ‘waste’, ‘regen’ or other more traditional roles but has less climate focus?

Either way, with this greater emphasis on greener business and eco-friendly ethic, councils need to be aware of the challenges they face in achieving such ambitious plans. They need to be prepared with the right people in the right jobs if they want to make a difference and have a successful green recovery.

Penna have delivered outstanding candidates to numerous green roles in the last few months. If we can assist you to find, excite and secure great talent for your hard-to-fill roles, please get in touch.

Gemma Matin and Jon Dilling are Sourcing Leads at Penna