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Green Careers Week: Why Encouraging The Next Generation Of ‘Green Workers’ Holds The Key To Meeting Our Net Zero Targets

ENCOURAGING more young people to embark on a green career is vital for the UK to meet its 2050 net zero targets, a leading recycling association says today.

As part of a new campaign to mark Green Careers Week, the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) also outlined five reasons why a career in the sector can prove to be life changing.

The BMRA says a myriad of opportunities exist for those looking to enter the sector and that it doesn’t matter whether the person is a school leaver with minimal qualifications or a graduate with a BA, MA or even a PhD. 

Outlining why Green Careers Week is so important, James Kelly, CEO, BMRA says: “Metals recycling is a vital component if the UK is to meet its climate goals by 2050. By 2050, many of those working in the sector now will be long retired whereas those at school today will be well into their careers. Like all industries, metals recycling has felt the reduction in talent pool which is why it is even more important to encourage young people into the industry.” 

Mr Kelly added that even if people don’t have the relevant qualifications, many will have skills that can be transferred into the industry: “Metals recycling companies have traditionally been family-run businesses, but as the industry grows, ownership models have been changing and more people are coming into the industry with skills obtained in other sectors. We also don’t want people to be put off if they don’t have qualifications. The BMRA was a key part of the team that created the Metals Recycling General Operative level 2 apprenticeship. This approach is a simple solution to plugging that talent pool gap for employers and offers young people a structured route into a green career”. 

His comments come in the wake of a recent survey commissioned by British Gas for National Apprenticeship Week. It said that three quarters of respondents are seeking careers that have a positive environmental impact.  According to the survey, on average, respondents have been considering a career which makes a difference from as early as 10 years old.

One person who has seen the positive impact of a green career is Elliot Ashton, a Weighbridge Operator at Kuusakoski Recycling. 

Elliot, 25, who came to metals recycling from another industry added: “Don’t underestimate the possibilities or potential for personal development that are available through a green career. What may seem like a minor position can quickly evolve and build up to be a full-blown career with the possibility to achieve a multitude of licenses, qualifications, and training.”

The Metals Recycling General Operative apprenticeship develops an apprentice’s knowledge and appreciation of a wide range of processes, site administration, risk assessment as well as legislation relating to metals recycling. They will attain the skills to operate industry-specific and generic plant and equipment, such as a forklift truck, shear and cable strippers. Safety will form a key element of their role and they can select one of five specialist routes in which to train. 

The BMRA has also offered five reasons why you may want to consider a Green Career. 

  • Help sustain the planet. Metals are 100% recyclable and avoid sending a permanent material to landfill. It prevents natural habitat from being mined, and it saves energy, reducing CO₂ emissions by up to 80%.
  • A career for life. The metals recycling industry does not stand still. It is busy, vibrant, and hands-on. If you have passion and motivation, the pathway for you knows no bounds. With a multitude of entry-level options available to you, you will gain more experience and knowledge that can open up other roles within the sector.
  • A job for everyone. Whether you are degree educated, or left school with minimal or no qualifications, there is a green job for you. Within metals ecycling, there is a sector-specific apprenticeship which can train on the ground operatives, even assisting them with passing their GCSEs if required. If you have a STEM degree, the metals recycling industry will need scientists and engineers. The options are vast.
  • Metals recycling touches all parts of society. Energy, construction, automotive, food and beverage, households. There will be very few things that you use, or touch, which do not contain metal that can be recycled. Even the phone you might be reading these words on. The metals recycling industry is worth £7 billion to the UK economy, so not insignificant at all!
  • Variety in your day to day. Particularly if you work on a smaller site, you may get to do a bit of everything, from weighbridge, to using the forklift, to material handler operating. You will also meet a variety of people, ensuring that no two days are the same. 
Posted in Careers, News, Waste and Recycling