Waste management: a rubbish career?

By J&C Team

Jobs in the waste management (or now recycling) industry can get a bad press. After all, we’re responsible for dealing with people’s rubbish. But there will always be waste to deal with and the recycling sector is a growing, varied and sustainable industry where technological advancement is creating some exciting career development opportunities.

When our chief executive, Colin Drummond, featured on Channel 4’s Undercover Boss in 2010 it opened a lot of people’s eyes to what our business involves. We no longer “deal” with waste, we treat, process and squeeze every last drop of value out of it and we employ talented individuals to help us do this. Technology is developing at an impressive rate and we need the right people to operate our facilities and help us to move forward.

Viridor employs over 3,000 of the 95,000 people that form part of the UK’s sustainable waste sector, in various roles from electrical engineers to site operatives and sales executives to environmental managers. A number of our employees have developed their careers through further study and are advancing within the company. Indeed, some of our senior managers began their careers working as general operatives in our household waste recycling centres, and our outgoing managing director started his working life as an apprentice.

There is no set entry route into our industry. We employ specialists in all different fields, all of which have different requirements. However, for the more “operational” roles which are the driving force of our business, there are qualifications that we encourage and help our employees to work towards, if they do not already have them. We usually recruit candidates with relevant (Electrical, Mechanical, Engineering, Controls and Instrumentation) technical qualifications such as HND/HNCs or City & Guilds, which demonstrate a level of knowledge that can be built upon through both formal and on-the-job training. This includes Health and Safety training, such as IOSH or NEBOSH, as well as a number of ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) accredited courses focussing on supervision, management and performance management. Where our facilities have specialist equipment and software, we work with the manufacturers to ensure our employees are fully trained in their operation and maintenance. To encourage further development, we have also recently formed a partnership with Edge Hill University to provide a Foundation degree to our aspiring managers.

As one of the UK’s leading recycling, renewable energy and waste management companies, we are investing over £1bn in “next generation” waste infrastructure to achieve our objective of “transforming waste”. The ongoing construction of five “energy from waste” plants,, which transform non-recyclable waste into electricity and heat brings with it exciting opportunities for people who may not have previously considered waste management as career route. These developments will generate hundreds of construction jobs and between 30-50 permanent positions at each location when the plants become operational.

The operation of an energy from waste facility draws many parallels with other industries and we have seen an influx of people from outside the sector considering the waste management industry as a new opportunity. There are a number of identifiable, transferable skills from the armed forces, royal engineers and royal logistics corp as well as other utility companies and engineering firms. And within our own industry, those that had previously operated power generation facilities at landfill sites will already possess a great deal of the knowledge required to operate this new technology.

Like many other companies, we are transforming our career entry points with graduate programmes, modern apprenticeships, employment partnerships and placements all forming part of our vision for the future leaders of our organisation. We are constantly looking for people to move our business forward and this has never been as important as it is now with the new facilities that we are opening over the next five years. Typical roles at an Energy from Waste facility will include; General Managers, Operations Managers, Engineering and Maintenance Managers, Health, Safety and Environmental Managers, Administrators, Mechanical Engineers, Electrical Engineers, C&I Engineers, Shift Team Leaders, Shift Technicians, Mechanical Technicians, Electrical Technicians, C&I Technicians and Fuel Reception Operators.

Waste will always be around to be dealt with, and the recycling industry is a growing and advancing sector. Opportunities are continuing to arise across the whole industry with waste being seen as a valid option rather than a ‘rubbish career’. If you are interested in speaking to us about opportunities at Viridor, email recruitment@viridor.co.uk or visit our website at www.viridor.co.uk.

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