UK debuts first Master’s level sustainability apprenticeship

Cranfield University has announced its plans to introduce a first-of-its-kind Master’s level sustainability apprenticeship to the UK

There’s no denying that every industry, in some form or another, is now being pressured to target issues regarding sustainability. Whether it be the supply chain sector cutting down on emissions, the food industry being herded towards plastic-free packaging, or mining giants halting plans to expand fossil fuel operations in favour of cleaner alternatives. No industry, big or small, is left untouched. 

Therefore, a clear demand is fast-approaching as businesses look to recruit experts in sustainability. In the near future, we could see almost every company possess a sustainability officer in charge of overseeing operational alignment with environmental standards and using innovative technology and data to ensure a company’s sustainability practices remain efficient. 

Senior sustainability roles cropping up in every industry

Hence, UK education institution, Cranfield University, has announced its plans to launch a first-of-its-kind sustainability apprenticeship, training the next generation of environmentally and socially aware businessmen and businesswomen ready to change the world. 

The programme launch coincides with the UK hosting the COP26 Climate Conference at the end of this year. As all eyes turn on the UK to set a sustainable example, Cranfield Uni’s new initiative might just get the crowds talking. 

“With the eyes of the world on the UK ahead of COP26, sustainability is at the forefront of the minds of government and business,” points out Dr Kenisha Garnett, Lecturer in Decision Science at Cranfield School of Water, Energy, and Environment. 

“We hear a lot about the technological gains we need to achieve net-zero but equally important are the skills that we will need to get there. We stand on the edge of an explosion in green jobs as sectors such as the energy, aviation and construction industries rapidly transition to a more sustainable and resilient future.”

Companies pressured to prioritise ESG

And progress is being made, although it’s sometimes easy to forget when faced with the monumental task of overhauling an entire industry. Russell Reynolds recently revealed a ten-fold increase in the use of the word ‘sustainability’ when advertising for new senior or executive roles. Last month also saw PwC proudly announce it would be creating 100,000 global job opportunities focused on ESG over the course of the next five years. 

“The role of the sustainability professional is changing,” claims Senior Lecturer in Sustainability at Cranfield School of Management, Dr Rosina Watson.  “No longer are we seeing one person as the sustainability professional in an organisation. We are seeing sustainability departments with board-level leads and attempts to engrain sustainable business thinking into all employees.”

Cranfield Uni’s new programme is intertwined with the Sustainable Business Specialist Apprenticeship. Upon completing the apprenticeship, participants will be awarded a Sustainability MSc, making them a valuable asset for businesses looking to recruit ESG-focused individuals to their teams. 

Director at Mikebarryeco Consultancy, Mike Barry, is adamant that the programme holds the key for future success for the UK’s environmental, economic, and social development goals. 

“Tackling the climate crisis requires every business to put sustainability at the heart of all it does, from board room to shop floor, product development to supply chain management, finance to marketing.

“We need everyone in an organisation to be climate literate, which is why this new course is so very important.”


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