No blueprints for education
Environmental professionals are now recognised employees within both private and public organisations. The job requirements for these professionals are still undergoing rapid change in comparison with other professions. For this reason it is impossible, and also undesirable, to define one or more position profiles. Nevertheless, some general features of the jobs market and environmental professions can be accounted for. It is possible to explore career options either by content or by position. The job requirements for environmental professionals should be viewed in a long-term perspective. Environmental professionals will have the required knowledge and skills, but it should not be underestimated that by possessing positive attitudes towards the environment senior professionals may engender a change in processes and organisations in favour of the environment.
How government, educational institutes, students, professionals and others try to meet the needs of the jobs market will be discussed. In this respect regular exchanges of information, networking, for example between employers and those responsible for education, are more effective tools than regulation. Also quality assessment of environmental education is a significant instrument.
The focus of this chapter is on the labour market for graduates from universities and institutes for higher vocational education. However, the market for those with a secondary vocational education should not be neglected. In a survey of the environmental labour market in The Netherlands (NEI 1989) it was estimated that 25 per cent of the need was fulfilled by persons with secondary vocational education. Following a description of the current labour market and specific careers, suggestions will be given for meeting the needs of knowledge, skills and attitudes of environmental professionals in society.