3 Reasons Why Sustainability Education Increases Employment Opportunities

October 04, 2017

Studies find that students who include sustainability into their learning and/or co-curricular experience are ahead of the curve when it comes to seeking employment after graduation.*  Below are just some of the reasons why it pays to get involved with sustainability that go beyond ethics:


1. Sustainability is the future job sector.


  • As sustainability becomes more and more central to the strategy of business and government, employers are increasingly emphasizing sustainability competencies, even for jobs that aren’t explicitly focused on sustainability. This means that sustainability education is an essential part of workforce development.
  • The jobs of the future are sustainability jobs. Indeed, the fastest growing segments of many industries are sustainability-oriented (e.g., renewable energy, organic agriculture, green buildings and electric vehicles).
  • Sustainability literacy helps empower students to participate effectively in civic dialog, which is likely to focus increasingly on the management of sustainability challenges.


2.  Sustainability builds key relationships with potential employers.


  • Sustainability enhances town-gown relations by improving community wellbeing and quality of life (e.g., by reducing air pollution from traffic or maintaining natural spaces for recreational use) and contributing to municipal sustainability goals.
  • Sustainability provides a focal point to engage new partners (e.g., businesses and government agencies) for high impact research collaborations and powerful experiential and applied learning opportunities. 
  • Strong sustainability commitments facilitate approval of campus expansion and development projects and are often a necessary part of agreements negotiated to gain support for new development. 

In other words, the sustainability-related projects and activities offered to students include relationships with key community leaders who provide excellent resume references or may be looking to hire in the future. 


3. Sustainability builds skills and experience to solve complex, global problems.


  • Sustainability demonstrates relevance in addressing grand challenges and helps unify the campus around a shared sense of purpose.
  • In a sign of its importance to solving pressing sustainability challenges, sustainability research is growing faster and receives more citations than research generally.
  • Sustainability is an inherently interdisciplinary field and tackling sustainability challenges often necessitates increased levels of campus coordination.  As a result, sustainability can stimulate innovation and catalyze improvements in organizational performance. 



*The research above was compiled by The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), in a document entitled, “The Value of Sustainability in Higher Education.”  Learn more about #CampusSustainabilityMonth and AASHE here.