The waste industry must assert itself in the environmental agenda in order to attract a highly skilled workforce to continue to develop according to a report on waste sector skills.
The report has been compiled by the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG) and was launched in Westminster today (November 12).
It contains essays authored by a number of figures from within the waste sector, and explores issues around skills in the industry, including the existing level of skills available, the development of future policy, as well as how the sectors needs will change as the industry continues its transition towards a resource-based outlook.
In his introduction to the report, Barry Sheerman, co-chair of the Associatie Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group claims it is essential that waste management is able to attract a skilled workforce by highlighting its positive environmental effect.
He said: As an industry, waste management is just beginning to assert itself as an important part of the environmental agenda, shrugging off negative public perceptions which have seen it labelled as dirty and unskilled.
It is an industry that young people should be excited to become involved with. The variety of opportunities within the sector mean that it can appeal to a huge pool of talent, if it can successfully position itself as the place to be for those in search of skilled, long-term employment.
Politicians, academics and figures from within the waste management sector have contributed essays to the report, including Dr Gev Eduljee, external affairs director of waste management firm SITA UK, Sue Wright, business development manager at the Waste Management Industry Training & Advisory Board (WAMITAB), APSRG co-chair Dr Alan Whitehead MP, Steve Lee, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management and Professor Margaret Bates, professor of wastes management at the University of Northampton.
In his piece, entitled Skills in sustainability: What is the waste sector looking for in long-term workers and is it being catered for? Dr Eduljee outlines the changing need for skills of the sector, and claims that there will be a sharp rise in the need for skilled jobs as the UK looks to divert more of its waste away from landfill.
He also claims that the skill requirements of the sector are changing, as it moves away from a collection and landfill approach, with more demand for technically skilled operational staff, as well as sales staff being needed.
Dr Whitehead whose essay examines the ways in which policy can support the waste sectors transition to a skilled workforce, claims that long-term technology neutral policy initiatives are needed from government, to develop waste management into a career based industry.
The educational options for young people looking to find a way into waste management are summarised by Professor Margaret Bates, who claims that the UKs academic sector has had to change its approach to adapt to financial restrictions but states that it is vastly important to allow students to adapt to the constant state of change being driven by targets, policy and aspirations.
Also in the report, Chartered Institute of Wastes Management chief executive Steve Lee looks at developing the skills of the existing waste management workforce to improve performance. Mr Lee claims that there is an increasing need to work with waste producers to provide them with greater awareness of recycling and waste prevention issues.