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Organizational Change
Study Says 80% of Sustainability Professionals Pursue More Training

Sustainability is a growing field with highly educated professionals from diverse backgrounds, but many lack critical skills despite their training, a recent study released by the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) and Sustainable Plant says.

The report, titled Sustainability: Dynamics Drive Growth, examined the qualifications and proficiencies of today’s sustainability practitioners and found a remarkable disparity between typical education and training and the necessary skills to be an effective sustainability professional. Sustainability professionals come from a range of roles across government, institutions and private enterprise and the ever-evolving field calls for additional training.

“While there may seem to be a disconnect of having highly educated sustainability personnel who feel that they do not have the skills needed for their current job, it should be noted that almost half are currently attaining additional training, and 80 percent expect to seek additional training in the future,” said Dorothy Atwood, resource manager at ISSP.

“The sustainability sector is projected to grow and to continue to attract personnel who like to learn, which also bodes well for educators, consultants and training facilities concentrating on sustainability professional development,” she added.

According to the study, only 11 percent of those surveyed had more than 20 years of sustainability experience and 67 percent have less than 10 years of experience. Most sustainability professionals are well educated, with 85 percent having at least a bachelor’s degree and 55 percent an additional higher degree. Nearly half are currently enrolled in continuing education programs related to sustainability and most intend to pursue additional sustainability-related training.

The study ranked communication as the most important skill in the profession; other useful skills included influencing change and change management, leadership and motivating others, technology and engineering expertise, problem solving and financial analysis.

A paper published last month as part of the Thirty Third International Conference on Information Systems claims the world is moving into a new age of sustainability-focused economics, suggesting there will be a growing need for well-trained sustainability professionals to fill new specialized roles.

@Bart_King is a freelance writer and communications consultant. @mikehower contributed.


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