Earth Day 2019: Australian Businesses Are Going Green


Despite continued uncertainty surrounding Australian energy policy, green job postings in Australia continued to track well ahead of other countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom

Key points:

  1. Australia has a sizable green sector with a high share of job listings compared with other countries, although postings fell in 2018.
  2. Environmental health officer remained the sector’s largest occupation, accounting for a quarter of green job postings.
  3. Western Australia had the largest share of green job opportunities relative to total state postings in the year ended in March 2019.

On April 22, the world celebrates Earth Day. This annual mobilisation promoting environmental awareness began in 1970 and today includes events on all seven continents. As Earth Day approaches, Indeed has identified the top green job postings in Australia, where they are located and how our green jobs postings share compares with such other countries as the United States and the United Kingdom.

Australia’s green sector is large by international standards

In Australia, employer postings for green jobs peaked in 2017 and have softened since then. In 2018, the green jobs posting share fell 18%. Despite that drop, green postings were still 22% higher than in 2015. Last year’s decline was due to a single job title—environmental health officer—with other green job titles rising.

Despite the postings drop, Australian businesses and households are more environmentally conscious today than in the past, even though political leadership is lacking on the issue. Political uncertainty surrounding climate change and energy policy may be forcing Australian businesses to take the environmental lead, a development reflected in hiring decisions over the past few years. And, for their part, households are showing where they stand by boosting demand for solar panels, supported by government rebates on solar installations. A recent survey

Australia’s green sector compares favourably with those of a range of similar countries. In 2018, the green postings share in Australia tracked around 40% higher than in the United Kingdom and almost 50% higher than in the United States. Even Canada, with its sizable mining sector leading to obvious comparisons with Australia, had relatively fewer green opportunities. Nevertheless, the gap between Australia and other countries narrowed in 2018.

Environmental health officer remains the biggest green occupation

Environmental health officer ranked as Australia’s top green job, accounting for a little over one-quarter of all green job postings, ahead of environmental manager at 15.7% and environmental consultant at 12.1%. Opportunities for workers with varying levels of education and experience can be found across the green sector—officers and assistants at one end and managers and specialists for those with greater qualifications.  

Interestingly, the overall decline in green job postings in Australia last year was driven entirely by a fall in the number of environmental health officer postings. Although that job kept its number one position over the past year, its dominance fell short of a year earlier when it represented almost half of green job postings.

Western Australia leads the way on green jobs

Western Australia is now the green jobs  front-runner, with a share of overall green postings over 50% above the national average in the year ended in March. A year earlier, it also ranked first, albeit to a lesser degree. South Australia took second place, while Queensland rounds out the top three.

Western Australia’s status as the green jobs leader makes sense. The state is synonymous with the mining sector and is Australia’s largest commodities exporter. No state is likely to see a greater shift in its economic fortunes from climate change in the coming decades. Queensland, another prominent mining state, ranked a little above the national average in green opportunities.

It would be easy to attribute the recent decline in green job postings to political uncertainty. However, that same political uncertainty was also evident throughout the green jobs upswing. Australian businesses have been dealing with it for over a decade now. Furthermore, since the fall in postings was so heavily concentrated in environmental health officer listings, the green sector actually appears healthy overall.  

More importantly, Australia is still an attractive destination for global energy investment.  A survey of 250 senior executives from 200 energy generation and distribution companies by the global law firm Pinsent Masons found Australia fourth behind Germany, China, and the United Kingdom as a target for global energy investment. Energy companies are major employers of environmental specialists. In that respect, greater energy investment—combined hopefully with a clear energy policy—would be a shot in the arm for green jobs going forward.

Methodology

We identified job titles containing one or more of the following terms: biofuel, sustainability, sustainable, biomass, brownfield, climate, energy, environment, environmental, geothermal, green, hydroelectric, ecologist, methane, recycle, recycling, solar, photovoltaic, PV, thermal, wind, water, hydrology, hydrologist, geoscientist, geoscience, conservationist, climatology, climatologist, conservation, ecology, ecologist, ecological, ecosystem, biodiversity and biodynamic. We then filtered this list to identify job postings that were clearly dedicated to environmental management or protection.

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