For many of us, working in a meaningful career that creates value and has a positive impact on others and the community is an important factor when job hunting.
Apart from sectors such as healthcare or social work, a fast emerging sector that you can consider looking for jobs in is sustainability. When it comes to sustainability, many people often think about the environment, but sustainability is more than just going vegan or ditching single use plastics.
You may have heard of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), which were launched in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.
The 17 goals include things like climate action, an end to poverty, no hunger, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, responsible consumption and production and sustainable cities and communities.
Although these may seem like big, lofty, high-level goals that have no bearing on our daily lives, we all know that the pursuit of sustainability is an ongoing collective effort by countries all over the world.
After all, “you are never too small to make a difference,” said Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. If the 18-year-old can go from staging a solo strike in front of the Swedish parliament to rallying hundreds across the world to go on climate strikes, there’s definitely room for us to contribute to positive change through our future careers.
There’s no better time to get into sustainability with the Singapore government ramping up efforts in our own sustainable development and transforming Singapore into a smart city, which means more job opportunities in new and exciting areas.
Sustainability Trends: Singapore Green Plan 2030, Smart Cities, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), etc
Early 2021 saw the government announced the Singapore Green Plan 2030, a national sustainability movement that outlines national green targets for the next 10 years.
The five key pillars of the Singapore Green Plan 2030 are:
City in Nature
Translated into action, these sustainability initiatives include:
Turning Jurong Island into a sustainable energy and chemicals park
Making 80% of all buildings green
Installing 60,000 electric vehicle charging points
Establishing Singapore as a carbon services hub and leading centre for green finance and services
Establishing Singapore as a sustainable tourism destination
Produce 30% of food locally
It’s expected that a green economy will create 55,000 new jobs in the next 10 years, with about 4,000 this year.
Another area of focus for Singapore is Smart Sustainable Cities where Singapore aims to create green, digital and efficient urban spaces. Cleaner and more efficient transport is a huge part of this and for those who live in the west or study at Nanyang Technological University, you may already have seen driverless buses on the roads.
This is all part of the ongoing move towards deploying more autonomous vehicles and electric vehicles. Apart from vehicles, Singapore is also an ideal environment for testbedding new technologies and many companies, local and global, are carrying out their activities here. Some notable ones include the 3M smart urban solutions lab, Bolloré Global Innovation Centre and Philips Lighting.
Across the world as well, there is growing prominence of environmental, social and governance (ESG), where investors evaluate companies on their sustainable business practices.
All these new developments mean more opportunities in sustainability whether you’re a fresh graduate looking to enter the field or a young professional thinking of switching to a more impactful role. Now’s your chance to develop some new food technology, try your hand at urban agriculture and aquaculture or be involved in the electric vehicle revolution.
Here are the 5 areas of sustainability careers for you to consider:
Urban solutions and mobility
You’ve seen the cute little BlueSG cars on the road and seen the dramatic rise and fall of Tesla’s stock price based on his tweets (someone please get Elon Musk a social media manager). Electric vehicles are a huge part of Singapore’s plan to go car-lite and reduce emissions. Autonomous (driverless) vehicles are also part of the plan to make transport safer and more efficient, with the entire western part of Singapore to be a testing ground for them.
With Singapore encouraging local startups and attracting MNCs, get in on the action to work for companies pioneering new technologies or be on the government side setting the ground for the transport of the future.
Possible jobs: Research Engineer, Artificial Intelligence Researcher, Vehicle Technician, Software Developer, Mechanical/ Electrical/ Computer/ Robotics Engineer
Agritech and Urban Farming
Did you know that Singapore imports over 90% of its food? Kind of a scary thought especially with animal disease outbreaks in other countries and the pandemic came along and disrupted global food supply chains. That’s why in a bid to become more self-sustaining, the government introduced the 30 by 30 goal, to produce 30% of our nutritional needs by 2030, and technology will play a huge role in meeting this goal.
Agritechnology or agritech is the use of technology to make agricultural production more efficient, improve food quality and increase food production. Farming, indeed is the new cool thing. Last year, the government also announced funding schemes to grow local agriculture and aquaculture companies, so if you’ve ever thought about taking your edible garden dreams big time, here’s your chance.
Possible jobs: Systems Engineer, Research Scientist, Field Technician, Farm Manager, Sales and Marketing
Built Environment, Energy and Cleantech
Are you the type to leave the air-conditioning on when you leave the hotel room? Air-conditioning is one of the largest contributors of building and household emissions. Yes, the humidity is unbearable but turning on the air-conditioner the whole day is just contributing to the vicious cycle.
This is where there’s a chance to work in clean technology (cleantech) or energy firms or in the built environment sector as the Singapore Green Building Masterplan (SGBMP) steers Singapore towards being more energy efficient. Many private sector companies also have sustainability departments. In fact, two of Singapore’s largest property developers City Developments Limited and CapitaLand made it to a worldwide list of the world’s 100 most sustainable big corporations.
Possible jobs: Energy Manager, BIM Modeller, Technical Officer, Facilities Technician, Civil/Structural Engineer, Mechanical & Electrical Engineer, Architect, Project Coordinator, Service, Analyst, Quantity Surveyor
Sustainable or Green Finance
Something novel that came out of this year’s Budget, Green Finance is the government’s move to integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria into financial services to bring about sustainable development outcomes. The government will also issue green bonds on certain public infrastructure projects such as Tuas Nexus, Singapore’s first integrated water and solid waste treatment facility.
For the finance folks who are also green warriors at heart, now is your time to make a difference in a sector you excel at.
Possible jobs: Application Developer, Data Analyst, Cybersecurity Engineer/Analyst, Full Stack Developer, Project Analyst, Programme Coordinator
When the Circuit Breaker happened in 2020, we all practically lived on online shopping, made possible by logistics firms that delivered our much needed groceries and food. But this generates tons of waste and makes the problem worse. Many companies in the logistics sector are moving towards more sustainable packaging, introducing eco-friendly material for packaging to reduce our environmental footprint. Other than packaging, being more green in logistics also involves reducing transport emissions and improving warehouse processes.
Possible jobs: Analyst, Research and Development, Packaging Design, Sustainability Associate, Operations Executive, Supply Chain Coordinator
If you’re interested in exploring a career in sustainability, and you have some questions about the industry, connect with Young NTUC — we’re a community that strives to give voice to the needs and career aspirations of our young workers. Through its comprehensive LIT (Learning is Triggered) Career Programmes, Young NTUC seeks to engage youths on various issues relating to career empowerment, fair workplace practices and skills development.
Visit www.lit.sg for more career-related resources and support such as mentorship opportunities, jobs and more. Follow us on our social media platforms, Facebook and LinkedIn for regular updates!