Sustainability revolutionizes future employment in Spain: most sought-after profiles

Students have just finished their university entrance exams and, except for a few lucky ones, most of them still have no idea where they see themselves in the future. There is the vocation, of course, but also the career opportunities. Experts assume that many of the students will be able to choose between a vocation and a career. Jobs of the future will be linked to environmental sustainabilityIn fact, digitalisation and the transition towards a more sustainable economic model will create 821,000 highly qualified jobs in Spain by 2030, according to a report prepared by Randstad.

These are jobs that contribute directly to the preservation or restoration of the environment, in traditional sectors – such as energy – or emerging ones, such as renewable energy or recycling. It may not seem like it at first glance, but this last industry requires a wide variety of professional profiles ranging from Big Data analysis and Artificial Intelligence, to the study of behavior of human society. We interviewed various professionals to explain what their jobs consist of and why they are the most sought-after jobs of the present (and the future).

Carolina Viana He studied Electronic Engineering at the time when it was part of the Faculty of Physics. Currently, he leads innovation projects to improve the efficiency of waste sorting and treatment plants, as well as collection operations. “My job is to look for technologies that can help us make operations more efficient,” he explains. “For example, we are testing initiatives such as installing smart cameras in trucks. Why? To see if they can detect if inappropriate waste is being smuggled in –waste that is wrongly deposited in the yellow bin– when the container is being dumped. This way, we would know early on if a “contaminated” truck is coming,” he concludes.

As for the plants, she reveals that they are testing a system that tells you how much PET and HDPE plastic has passed through the conveyor belt, using a camera and an image recognition AI. These types of solutions are very valuable for factories. “My profile, a priori, did not have so much to do with green employment, but with the automobile or aeronautical industry, but Ecoembes sought me out to apply my knowledge to the plants where the waste from the yellow container is sorted, and I was delighted to work for something as beautiful as recycling!” she celebrates.

Will more profiles like yours be needed in the future? “Of course. There is no limit to this, because it has just begun. We are increasingly able to fit in; sensors need to be placed in containers, in trucks, in plants… we are going to completely digitalise the sector and more technical profiles are needed. A very interesting one is that of data analyst, because our innovations will generate a large volume of data,” he says. That is precisely the job of Fuencisla Martin at the Ecoembes Data Office. From there, it is responsible for collecting, extracting, structuring and analyzing large amounts of data using specific Big Data software and algorithms.

“My job is to make things easy for others. I provide them with business intelligence tools so they know what is happening, and a colleague of mine feeds the data into predictive algorithms that estimate what will happen. In this way, they can make business decisions based on understandable, reliable and consistent data,” he sums up. On a daily basis, he works with millions of data related to the operation of waste collection, finance and marketing, among others.

If you had been told this a few years ago, you would not have believed that your profile would have so much to offer a company dedicated to waste management. “Although I was interested in the environment, I did not think that they needed such technical profiles, but today, all companies can apply data analysis. They must do so, because the most valuable thing in a company is its data. It is where knowledge is generated. When you work with them and relate them to each other, you can improve your processes and even the financial situation of a company,” he says.

But the more human – or less digital – sciences are also a key area in the ecological transition. Strengthening recycling as a habit is the mission of Ismael Garciaa sociologist who focused his career on recycling. Now, he is a specialist in innovation and citizen behaviour at TheCircularLab, Ecoembes’ open innovation centre. “Basically, what I do is listen to the citizen, see what needs they have, what they value and what their pain points are,” he points out. To do this, demographic and perception studies are conducted.

«We have developed a whole project to understand the personality of citizens with regard to recycling. We have identified 5 groups of people with their motivations and obstacles. There is the group of individualists, who need fines or financial benefits to act, although most of us are from the altruistic group: we do it to procure the common good», he says. The conclusions seem far away, but the results of these works can determine what happens around you. «If a municipality has 50% elderly people, we do not install recycled plastic swings; other actions will be taken. We listen, we understand and we optimize», says García.

TheCircularLab also has programs such as CircularTalentLab to promote young talent. This program seeks varied profiles. For example, the last edition, which included six recent graduates in Business Administration and Management (ADE), Electronic Engineering, Sociology, Marketing, Programming and Graphic Design. One of the participants of the VII edition was Aina Terradesfrom ADE. “It opened many doors for me. Now I am a sustainability project manager at a consultancy that works with hotels to improve their sustainability,” she says.

Whatever the size of the company, she is responsible for creating projects that help them improve waste management, water or energy consumption. Her future career began at CircularTalentLab, when she participated in the design of an initiative to apply selective waste collection to the tourist apartment sector. “It consisted of creating a distinctive Ecoembes seal called Ecohostel and we generated small waste bins for the apartments. In this way, we solved a common problem: tourists having to manage their own waste when they arrive at a house, due to a lack of resources,” says Terrades.

In previous editions, members have faced challenges such as creating a smart container or an app that makes recycling easier for citizens. The next edition of CircularTalentLab, the twelfth, begins in September and is looking for six profiles: one in Business Administration and Management, two in Product Design Engineering, one in Sociology, one in Psychology and one in Marketing.