Early Career Professional

Early career professionals (ECPs) are positive about working in the UK’s environmental & sustainability (E&S) consulting sector, according to a new survey from Environment Analyst, with respondents citing role variation, international work and a sense of purpose as critical determinants of job satisfaction. 

But the results flagged sub-optimal performance in the areas of sector diversity, salaries, and early engagement with young learners to encourage take-up of relevant STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) subjects, when compared to other professional service sectors.


The Early Careers Survey was produced and run by Environment Analyst’s Early Careers Advisory Board (ECAB) – part of our Sustainability Delivery Group – to understand how early careers professionals tend to hear about the sector, typical routes of entry, diversity, early career motivation, satisfaction levels among respondents, and key push and pull factors to, from and within the sector.

In this report, ECAB presents the results of the survey of almost 370 professionals and provides commentary and recommendations for E&S consulting business leaders to use to improve their ECP outreach, engagement and retention programmes. 

"The E&S sector is responsible for tackling some of the most critical issues faced by our generation." says Michael Bentham, ECAB chair and senior sustainability consultant with Jacobs. "But the sector faces a huge challenge in keeping up with demand for its services. By 2025, the UK E&S consulting sector will need to recruit an additional 7,200 professionals if it is to keep pace with the rising demand for ESG, net zero and other sustainability services, according to intelligence produced by Environment Analyst.

"The findings of this Early Careers Survey will hopefully help the sector to address this skills shortage by not only helping the sector to attract the next generation of talent, but also by helping to maximise retention of those already in the industry."

Key takeaways

  • Diversity appears to be improving in the sector. However, there is a little further to go to reflect the national average diversity mix.
  • Job satisfaction, sector retention and likelihood to recommend the sector are very positive overall. However they can be improved even further by taking action against the key themes identified from the negative qualitative responses to the survey.
  • The E&S consulting sector is in a unique position in that we have the opportunity to address the world’s most significant challenges. There is a clear desire from respondents to tackle these issues, and to see their companies contribute to solutions by implementing best practice. Therefore, it is important for us to communicate our commitment to solving these issues, and celebrate the great work being undertaken across the sector.

About ECAB

The Early Careers Advisory Board (ECAB) is made up of early career representatives from ten major consultancies within the environmental & sustainability (E&S) consulting sector. They are: AECOM, Arcadis, Atkins, Delta-Simons (part of Lucion Group), ERM, Jacobs, Mott MacDonald, Ramboll, SLR and Wood. You can see a list of member individuals here

ECAB was established to research and promote E&S consulting outreach activities to ECPs, particularly through schools, colleges and universities within the UK. Through developing an understanding of current activities across member companies within the Sustainability Delivery Group, it is hoped the sector can foster a culture of cooperation and coordination between the major E&S consulting firms, in order to tackle the sector's skills crisis.  

This survey is the second tranche of activity following the publication of a series of video interviews exploring the typical life of an environmental consultant.