1. Please tell us a bit about your organisation and your role.
carbonjobs was established in 2008 and is recognised today as one of Asia-Pacific’s leading specialist recruitment firms dedicated to operating within the fields of:
• Corporate & Environmental Sustainability;
• Carbon and Climate Change Risk, Adaptation & Mitigation;
• Social Licence to Operate / Social Impact Assessment; and
• Cleantech & Renewable Energy Investment / Development.
Listed companies, specialist consultancy firms and governmental agencies turn to carbonjobs for personalised service and access to the most qualified talent for their temporary recruitment, project consulting and permanent recruitment needs.
As Director, Asia-Pacific my role encompasses expanding our client and professional job seeker networks whilst executing specialist recruitment assignments on behalf of our clients. My professional career commenced at Arthur Andersen providing taxation and accountancy advisory services to ASX-listed entities before embarking on a recruitment career in 2001. Of late, I have enjoyed the challenges associated with combining work and academic life via my enrolment in the International Energy Centre’s Master of Energy Studies program which includes Climate Change Adaptation modules.
2. Are employers seeking people with climate change adaptation skills? If so are they seeking specific adaptation specialists – or environmental and other specialists who understand adaptation (e.g. specific adaptation roles vs general roles that can mainstream adaptation)?
Focussing on consultancy firms initially, it is fair to say that under the current market conditions most firms fail to support full-time adaptation specialists. Thus the expectation is that professionals possessing strong adaptation skills will also be tasked with a range of other, often more traditional environmental management projects and/or assignments. Environmental impact assessments (EIAs), environment/water planning and carbon/energy reporting duties are typically “bolted onto” key adaptation work being undertaken by such a professional.
With regards to in-house roles, it is very rare for development and construction firms to be large enough to take on adaptation professionals on a full-time basis. Again, the requirement would be for the individual to wear a number of different hats to best justify their role within the business. It is worthwhile noting however, the likelihood of pure adaptation roles being created is most readily associated with international positions within the Asia-Pacific region that may well be tied into funding provided via the likes of AusAID, Word Bank and Asian Development Bank.
3. Which sectors are looking for adaptation skills (e.g. government agencies or private sector (which elements of the private sector)?
Evidence to date from the recruitment industry would suggest that government agencies have been taking the lead on factoring in climate change adaptation scenarios to their decision making processes. To be fair, a number of the more proactive urban development and engineering infrastructure companies are beginning to place a higher value upon adaption expertise. I would suggest that this ties into the ability of these firms to tender for major governmental sponsored projects requiring a heightened consideration of adaptation strategies than in years gone by.
4. In your view what is the main driver for the demand of adaptation skills (e.g. regulatory pressure; recent extreme weather events; and / or due diligence)?
Outside of a few consulting firms proactively sensing that a strong adaptation arm will be highly beneficial to winning an enhanced number of engagements, the most common driver is tied closely to state and local government regulatory amendments. Climate change adaptation activity is most readily associated with the “stick” approach in today’s marketplace as opposed to the “carrot”, that is, companies and governmental agencies are reacting to regulatory risk and/or compliance as opposed to perceived opportunities. We are also keeping a close eye on the major insurance and re-insurance firms who are continuing to take a more proactive approach in assessing their investment portfolio’s risk exposure to extreme weather events. The influence of these global firms should not be underestimated and could well be a source of additional employment opportunities in the years ahead.
5. From your insight into the market are there many experienced adaptation specialists in Australia?
Firstly, I should clarify that we are in a marketplace that requires professionals to possess more than a reasonable degree of practical project delivery experience before any claims to being a specialist should be made. With this in mind, my sense is that Australia has no more than 10-15 genuine climate change adaptation specialists who are able to provide evidence of a portfolio (more than five) of medium-to-large scale adaptation projects that have been successfully executed within Australia. As carbonjobs possesses very strong ties to Australian and New Zealand job seekers working abroad (amongst others), it is fair to say that there exists another pool of 15-20 senior job seekers possessing highly transferable adaptation skills who are hoping to return home in the next 6-12 months. Regardless of how you examine the numbers, we are talking about a very small pool of specialists tasked with delivering what are often highly technical and largely multidisciplinary projects in the months and years ahead.
6. Do you think that the demand for adaptation specialists will increase (locally and internationally) - will it become difficult for employers to find experienced adaptation specialists in the short term?
I suspect that of the handful of highly specialised fields the carbonjobs team and I focus on, genuine climate change adaptation project delivery expertise within Australia is in as short supply as someone who is perhaps an experienced emissions trader, that is to say very short supply. Demand domestically will increase in line with regulatory changes, the “stick” approach mentioned above, with demand throughout the Asia Pacific region certain to increase dramatically in the years ahead as various international funding bodies commit literally millions of dollars to helping largely developing, or least developed using a Clean Development Mechanism phrasing, countries plan ahead for what many believe to be somewhat inevitable changes to the highly sensitive environment within which these countries and their populations exist.