Skills for the Future: New CIWM report outlines key skills for resource and waste sector as it approaches decade of major change

The incoming President of CIWM (the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management), Dr Adam Read, today launches his Presidential Report for 2021, detailing the expansive set of skills that the resource and waste sector must acquire over the next decade in order to deliver on a raft of new government-led environmental policy measures, including Net Zero by 2050 and the transition from a linear to a circular economy.

CIWM Skills for the Future report


Currently the UK’s resource and waste sector turns over an estimated £9 billion per year and provides 150,000 jobs whilst carrying out a number of activities including waste collection, treatment, recycling, reprocessing, disposal and the generation of energy from waste. Over the next decade, the sector will have an increasingly important role to play as the UK seeks to improve resource availability and security and the need to supply quality secondary raw materials and feedstocks from a wide range of different waste streams increases.

Launched at CIWM’s first-ever virtual Presidential Conference, the Skills for the Future report captures the thoughts of CIWM members and other professionals working in, or supplying the resource and waste sector on the key challenges, opportunities, skills, capabilities and competencies that future resource managers will need as they adapt to the changing needs of the sector.

Broken down into two five-year transition periods, the Skills for the Future report outlines six key skill sets which link into major policy reforms set to be implemented in the UK within the next five years[i], followed by those that will underpin the Government’s decarbonisation objectives, circular economy systems and green-recovery business models. The most prevalent future skills identified by the report’s stakeholders include: systems thinking; communication and behaviour change; soft skills; data and information technology (IT); circular economy expertise and reuse and repair skills.

The findings

The report goes on to outline how businesses and organisations operating within the resource and waste sector will need to forge more collaborative, interconnected working relationships with specialists in other industries in order to complement the expanded skills set. From material and chemical engineers, product designers, producers and manufacturers to data and IT consultants, working cross-industry will help the resource and waste sector to maximise its potential and successfully deliver on the major resource capture and decarbonisation plans being implemented at a policy level.

In keeping with its commitment to support knowledge sharing, the Skills for the Future report will inform CIWM’s plans for a new skills matrix which will be updated annually. Alongside this, a steady programme of training, mentoring and development opportunities will be provided, both for existing resource professionals and those looking to enter the sector over the coming decade.

While CIWM recognises the role that it must play in leading the resource and waste sector through this critical phase of evolution, the Skills for the Future report calls on UK Government to provide strategic support so improved skills, increased employment, investment and cross-industry collaborations are facilitated over the coming decade.

Key skills

Commenting on the Skills for the Future report launch, CIWM President, Dr Adam Read, said: “The resource and waste sector will sit at the heart of a future circular economy and a post-pandemic green recovery, but to ensure this can happen, we need to up-skill our workforce and attract new talent whilst collaborating with other industries, academic institutions and leading professional bodies.

“This year’s CIWM Presidential Report not only identifies the key skills that will support the resource and waste sector through forthcoming policy-based changes, but also acts as a call to arms, outlining how forward-planning, collaboration and government support are critical if this vitally important transition can take place.”

Commenting on his inauguration to President of CIWM, Dr Adam Read said: “It is with huge honour that I take on the role of 105th President of CIWM. As we approach a decade of significant change in the resource and waste sector, I look forward to working with colleagues and members alike, creating a newly skilled sector-based workforce that has the capacity to adapt to the wide range of forthcoming policy changes, whilst helping CIWM achieve its wider ambition to lead the transition to a world beyond waste.”

Alongside his new role as President of CIWM, Dr Adam Read is External Affairs Director at Suez Recycling & Recovery UK. He takes over from outgoing CIWM President Trevor Nicoll, who served as the institution’s President for over 18 months, having taken on the position in November 2019 and steering the organisation through a particularly challenging period.

[i] Key reforms include Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) and consistent collections

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