New schemes for careers in corporate sustainability

Two schemes have been launched for students and professionals who are keen on a career in companies that aim to be sustainable in their business practices.

Corporate sustainability does not just cover the environment but also includes human rights, labour practices and ensuring no corruption.

For students, the Sustainability Internship Programme at companies will be carried out in two runs, each a 12-week stint, for about 60 young people altogether.

The Sustainability Professional Programme is for professionals with at least two years of work experience and who want to upgrade their skills or switch careers.

It entails 10 days of classroom training plus a four-week mentorship or attachment to a company or consultancy. There is room for a total of about 60 people in three runs.

Both efforts will start in the second half of this year as two-year pilot programmes.

Trainees will get an allowance, said the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Global Compact Network Singapore (GCNS) yesterday in announcing the schemes.

GCNS is a trade association that promotes corporate sustainability and increasingly, companies are starting to introduce teams tasked with raising sustainability.

Its executive director Wilson Ang said demand for sustainability professionals is set to grow, citing the Singapore Exchange's sustainability reporting rules that were introduced last year and the opening of a green bond market for investments in projects with environmental benefits.

"But people who want to start a career in the field usually don't know whether it suits them or don't know where to start," he said.

GCNS signed an agreement to join NTUC as a U Associate partner at a forum on sustainability over the weekend, which was attended by about 200 young people.

The partnership will help take industry expertise to more working people, said NTUC assistant director-general Vivek Kumar, who heads NTUC's U Associate and U PME departments.

"Consumers are now more interested in how companies create products, whether ethical labour relations are maintained or ingredients are sourced sustainably, so companies will need more people who can oversee these processes."

Companies such as Singtel and Sembcorp Industries have agreed to offer internship places, and GCNS is in talks with 13 other companies.

Mr Marcus Chan, 19, a third-year clean energy management student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic who is eyeing an internship, said: "We all live on this earth and we need to take steps to protect it. We all want to live in a cleaner, greener environment."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2017, with the headline 'New schemes for careers in corporate sustainability'. Print Edition | Subscribe