The 2018 Greenitaly Report compiled by Fondazione Symbola and Unioncamere, with the patronage of the Ministero dell’Ambiente e della tutela del territorio e del mare (Ministry for the Environment and safeguarding of territories and sea) is clear: Italy can now count on 2 million and 998 thousand green jobs. And the number is destined to grow.
Already now, 14% of national employment is in the "green" sector. The Italian Union of Chambers of Commerce, Crafts and Agriculture (Unioncamere) estimates that by the end of 2019 there will be an increase in demand for new professional figures related to the green economy.
We are talking about 474 thousand new potential contracts for professional subjects ranging from energy engineers to bio-technicians, mechatronic technicians and installers. They are part of the complex, fascinating and increasingly sought after figures of the environmental consultant.
In 2018, the number of activation contracts predicted by companies that deal with green jobs amounted to almost 473,600 units, corresponding, as we read in the Green Italy 2018 report, “to the demand for professional positions whose work is aimed directly at production of green goods and services or reducing the environmental impact of production cycles”.
These job openings are characterized above all by greater contractual stability: permanent employment makes up 46% in the case of green jobs, when in the rest of the workforce this share falls to just over 24%.
This gap, the Report continues, "is also confirmed considering the apprenticeship contract, given that this type of contract accounts for about one out of ten hirings, both in the case of" green "professions and other professional figures".
Environmental consultants: who are they, what do they do
The environmental consultant is a highly professional technician, backed by multidisciplinary knowledge that lends professionalism to a company.
Their task is to protect, assist and help companies (and public administrations) grow within a path consistent with:
- compliance with environmental and health protection regulations;
- obtaining certifications;
- training of employees;
- the transition towards a model increasingly based on zero-impact efficiency.
An environmental consultant therefore acts as a point of contact between companies and the territory. They operate, in particular:
- in the area of guarantees for the company, guiding it in the system of increasing complexity of national and European legislation related to the environment;
- as part of a strategic development, understanding the business opportunities now open for each sector of the green economy.
These types of consultancy is increasingly necessary for companies that have to deal with situations requiring a professional outlook on green issues and are called upon to exploit opportunities that are increasingly compatible with the needs of ethical and environmental protection.
Environmental consultants are therefore increasingly turning into green economy consultants: they need to posses the ability to participate actively in the environmental management of the company: in other words the interactions between company activities and the environment (i.e. Planning the transition towards a so-called circular economy).
The work of the green consultant therefore focuses also on two fundamental strategic plans:
- use of raw materials and company energy costs;
- production of waste, its environmental impact and the containment of its corporate cost.
Environmental consultant: an increasingly recognized profession
Biology and natural sciences, law, management, chemistry and economics. There are many skills required for an environmental consultant, but this multidisciplinary approach is its strength. And it shouldn’t scare you away.
Before becoming a technician in charge of environmental hygiene and consulting, it is generally necessary to have previous competences. This could be degree in civil and environmental engineering, in environmental and natural sciences, in biology and chemistry or in management, but also communication. Have no fear: even a high school diploma will also do: experts, in fact, are increasingly turning into true eco-managers.
Since there isn’t yet a specific degree course in environmental consulting, the road to the profession is open and tied to continuous training, tailored around the ambitions of the subject and market demands. And this sort of training today is guaranteed by numerous professionalizing and master courses and by a professional recognition that some professional associations of the category (for example the Italian Union of Environmental Consultants) have undertaken to enhance, allowing them to "qualify" the profession and open it to the future.
Geography of a need
The first Region for total number of contracts related to green jobs is Lombardy where, according to GreenItaly 2018, there are 123,380 jobs, amounting to just over a quarter of the national total (26.1%). Emilia Romagna follows with 45.562 requests for green jobs (9.6%), Lazio, with 45.480 activations (9.6% of the national total), then Veneto at 42.654 (9%), Piedmont with 38.869 (8.2%). Finally we find Campania (29.467, 6.2%), Tuscany (23.637, 5% of the national total), Puglia (20.912, 4.4%), Sicily (19.994, 4.2%) and Friuli Venezia Giulia (11.546, 2, 4%).
The 10 most wanted profiles
An important novelty comes through from the data of Unioncamere's Excelsior system, which monitors the employment needs of Italian companies monthly: the aptitude for energy saving and environmental sustainability is the most requested competence by companies immediately after so-called soft skills, positioning themselves before the written and oral communication skills in Italian and foreign languages and even before digital skills and knowledge of tools for visual and multimedia communication
Of the 4,092,500 signed contracts in the labor market in 2017, for a good 76.8% (3.143.190 units), environmental competence were in fact considered necessary to carry out the job, and for 36.8%, (i.e. 1,506,690 units), the degree of importance of this competence was considered medium-high.
Having said that, ten professional macro-categories have emerged for which an attitude to energy saving and sensitivity to the reduction of the environmental impact of company activities are of high importance.
Within these categories, the Green Italy 2018 Report (from which we take the list) has identified ten "completely innovative or that have undergone a process of renewal with the introduction of new skills or the substantial updating of existing ones" professional figures".
- High efficiency electrical network technician. A technician in charge of installing electrical networks linked to production from renewable or high-efficiency sources must not only be familiar with the various moments of the profession, the technical and technological innovations, but also have the regulatory framework of reference and the application of safety standards in mind.
- Short chain agricultural programmer. It is estimated that today in Italy between 5 and 6% of the total national consumption of food products comes from a short supply chain. A short supply chain agricultural programmer operates respecting the environment and energy impacts, and deals with the planning and scheduling of production processes according to the needs of local demand, cultural and gastronomic traditions, and the seasonality of products. They work in marketing processes and identifying local markets, purchasing networks, farmers markets. They are capable of effectively integrating the various moments that go from production to marketing. Although there is no specific training, an academic course in agricultural sciences appears to be the most relevant. For agricultural operators, production technicians or food preparation workers, a professional qualification diploma is required.
- Eco-mechatronics. By 2023, mechanics and electricians must all become mechatronic by law in order to be authorized to carry out self-repair activity. It will be mandatory to certify one's own competences and, if necessary, to integrate them with compulsory courses. The mechatronic technician (or simply "the mechatronic") is the worker who designs and processes more or less complex control systems in the sector, working on entire products or cycles or on parts of them. Their training is of an industrial technical type, which can be achieved at university courses or higher technical education.
- Expert eco-concrete worker. More and more companies are experimenting and marketing highly innovative and environmentally friendly mixtures, from cements able to imprison CO2 to biological concrete for facades. These processes and products require different methods and installation timelines and it is not uncommon for the same manufacturing companies to offer training services to unskilled workers and masons in order to make them more quickly and more effectively familiar with the new materials. Training takes place with practice, on construction sites, but it is preferable to attend short professional courses.
- Low environmental impact A/C systems technician. For some years now it has become necessary to obtain a special training / qualification compulsory for all those who want to carry out the installation and maintenance of boilers, fireplaces, both photovoltaic and thermal solar systems for domestic use, low enthalpy geothermal systems and heat pumps.
- Environmental Risk Manager. It is the professional figure that analyzes and identifies weak points, possible flaws and risks to which the company could be exposed, and guarantees compliance with environmental and workplace safety regulations. The environmental risk manager, in addition to technical and scientific knowledge, must be perfectly familiar with all the Italian and EU regulations in the sector and be in continuous training.
- Environmental teacher for children. It is an atypical profession, given the humanistic footprint required. But it is an increasingly popular figure that involves transversal skills in didactics, education and natural sciences. Although there is no defined course of study or a system of certification of skills, an environmental teacher should have a solid scientific base and knowledge of the area.
- Expert in energy management (energy engineer). This engineer designs and manages plants in order to reduce the consumption of raw materials and energy. The relevant sectors are industrial, civil, agricultural and transport. A degree is necessary and, to have the title of engineer, registration to the relative register. In particular, an energy engineer can now aspire to become "Energy Management Expert" (abbreviated "EGE"), or be in charge of energy management systems under the ISO 50001 standard. In the Italian legislative system, as early as in 2014, the EGE is entitled to conduct energy audits at large companies and energy-intensive businesses. In addition, the EGEs are entitled to all the procedures necessary to issue white certificates (TEE – Energy efficiency certificates). An EGE does not necessarily have to have a degree in the energy sector, however, since the UNI CEI 11339 Standard provides for a certification path of competences, based both on the theoretical knowledge possessed and on experience gained over the years.
- Sustainable building material promoters. They are the pivots among the main areas of the supply chain. In fact, they represent the manufacturing companies for which they sell the products, but can also be the expert alongside the manufacturer suggesting and choosing materials. Their role is therefore mainly that of technical consultancy
- Green industrial mechanics. Their task is not only to install or mount new-concept machinery in an industrial environment, but also to check the areas where these plants will have to work. In some cases and with appropriate specializations they can become certifiers for testing, verification and, in fact, certification depending on the environmental systems installed.