Talented graduates who want to help change the world are being invited to apply to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s Graduate Trainee Scheme.

Now in its second year, the programme aims to equip Scotland’s next generation of environmental professionals with the skills and knowledge to tackle global challenges like climate change

HeraldScotland: Terry A’Hearn, SEPA chief executive, addresses an event on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development GoalsTerry A’Hearn, SEPA chief executive, addresses an event on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

“This is a critical time for our environment,” says SEPA chief executive Terry A’Hearn. “If everyone lived as we do in Scotland, we would need three planets to sustain ourselves – but we have only one.

“As part of our One Planet Prosperity strategy, we want to help businesses and communities find innovative ways to prosper within our environmental capacity. It’s an ambitious strategy – and we'll continue to need talented people to help us achieve it.”

HeraldScotland: 2017 – 2019 SEPA Graduate Trainees left to right – Lorraine, Zoe, Craig, Laura, Emma, Lauren, Mairi and Aleks2017 – 2019 SEPA Graduate Trainees left to right – Lorraine, Zoe, Craig, Laura, Emma, Lauren, Mairi and Aleks

Successful applicants to the two-year programme will work across Scotland on a diverse range of projects reflecting SEPA’s vital role in protecting and maintaining Scotland’s environment. This includes environmental regulation, mitigating and adapting to climate change, monitoring and reporting on the state of our environment, raising awareness of environmental issues, engaging with the public through citizen science projects, and resolving environmental harms.

Emma is one of eight successful applicants to SEPA’s Graduate Trainee Scheme in 2017, says: “The kind of things I’ve been doing at SEPA have included hosting and organising international visitors. I’ve been looking at data for contaminated land sites and I’ve also been the Sustainable Growth Agreement lead for the 2050 Climate Group.”

Sustainable Growth Agreements are part of SEPA’s One Planet Prosperity strategy and are voluntary formal agreements between SEPA and an organisation that focus on practical action to deliver environmental outcomes. One of SEPA’s Sustainable Growth Agreements is with the 2050 Climate Group, Scotland’s youth climate group, which aims to lead a social movement by engaging, educating and empowering Scotland’s future leaders to take action on climate change.

Craig is another graduate trainee from SEPA’s 2017 intake, said: “I studied chemical engineering at university and decided to join SEPA after doing some work in the gas industry. I really loved the environmental aspect of my degree – and being given the chance to actually go and help protect and improve Scotland’s environment was a huge opportunity that I couldn’t miss out on.”

The Graduate Trainee Scheme was introduced by SEPA Chief Executive Terry A’Hearn, who was a graduate himself on a programme in Australia in 1989.

“It was a great way to learn about the organisation I was joining,” A’Hearn says. “It was a great way to work out how I could contribute my skills to that organisation. So at SEPA we started a programme to give that sort of opportunity to new graduates here. Graduates should apply to work for SEPA, we think, because there are few more exciting places to work than on the environment.

“If we’re going to solve environmental problems in this century, we have to tackle economic and social problems as well. So it’s a tremendous opportunity to use your skills to contribute to making the world a better place.”

SEPA is headquartered in Stirling and employs around 1,300 staff at 24 offices across Scotland including Lerwick, Kirkwall, Fort William, Aberdeen, Perth, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dumfries, Ayr and Balloch.

Employee benefits include competitive salaries, flexible working arrangements, the opportunity to join SEPA’s pension scheme and many other benefits.

SEPA’s Graduate Trainee Scheme is open to applications until 3 March 2019 via sepa.org.uk/graduates.