This week is ‘Green Careers Week’, a national event that encourages young people to aim for careers that will have a genuinely positive impact, both locally and globally, on the environment. A ‘green career’ could be any role that contributes to the preserving or restoration of our environment. This week HNC’s A Level Economics students welcomed guest speaker, Victoria Vienne, an Environmental Economist from the University of Huddersfield, for a specialist workshop to look at the impact that economics has on our environment and the pressing issues that affect us all.

One such issue is the release of raw sewage into our rivers and seas, which has featured heavily in the media recently. Last year, more than 384,000 discharges of raw sewage were reported by water companies across the UK, with the Rivers Trust describing the issue as “extremely bad news for environmental and human health”. While some sewage discharge is accepted as necessary, especially when experiencing the levels of excessive rainfall seen in recent storms, water companies the length of the UK are currently being investigated for breaching the agreed permitted conditions of raw sewage releases. The session attended by the College’s A Level Economics students, titled “Microeconomics in real-life – an environmental economics case study”, saw the group research why water companies release raw sewage into our rivers and seas, and consider the potential economic reasons behind the decisions to do so. Students worked in groups to discuss the consequences of such decisions and possible solutions, and the economic viability of further investing in our water infrastructure vs the cost of the current system and the negative impact it has on the UK’s waterways.

After the workshop, the group were able to discuss Victoria’s career progression to find out more about the role of an Environmental Economist – and how roles such as these will play an important part in the future of our planet. Daryl Stappard, Head of Faculty Humanities, Language and Literature, comments “Economics undoubtedly underpins the decisions made by governments across the world when it comes to considering the environmental impact of policies and legislation. It was fascinating to hear from Victoria about the pressing issue of the health of our rivers and seas in the UK, and how the role and responsibilities of UK water companies can impact them, and whether the parameters set by government go far enough in protecting our environment. Our students discovered today the fine balance that is needed when deciding where and when to invest in national infrastructure, and the difficult decisions that must be taken to balance the needs of the economy with the needs of the environment. This workshop not only further deepened the knowledge our students will need to be successful in their studies, it has also genuinely inspired out students to think of the breadth of economics roles available, and how in ‘Green Careers Week’ they can progress to roles that can make a genuine difference to our environment”.

In Year 11 and have ambitions to progress to a ‘green’ career? Join us at our next Open Event on Thursday 30 November to find out how courses such as our new Environmental Science A Level can be combined with A Level Economics to help you secure your dream ‘green’ career. Find out more here.

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