Research: Positive job growth in sustainability, but other skills also needed

June 15, 2011

Many people think the next big job boom will happen in the area of sustainability. Research from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University shows a huge percentage of employers are already giving positive weight to job candidates with sustainability skills. However, the same research indicates these job applicants also need professional training in existing fields, to push them over the top in the hiring process.

“Right now, sustainability jobs in business are linked to existing organizational structures,” says W. P. Carey School of Business professor Kevin Dooley, who authored the research. “You’re probably not going to find a sustainability department in many companies, but employees with skills and interest in sustainability will get assigned to related projects and move up the ladder. Job candidates with both sustainability skills and a solid professional background in a field like business or engineering are receiving job offers that far exceed what’s warranted in the current market, and that’s because there aren’t many of them.” Download Full Image

Dooley analyzed about 100 job postings related to sustainability, interviewed several corporate sustainability managers, and surveyed about 200 managers and executives from small, medium and large companies. Across the board, companies valued sustainability training. In the surveys:

• 65 percent of small-company respondents said they would consider a sustainability concentration when making a hiring decision;

• 87 percent of the large-firm respondents agreed;

• A whopping 97.5 percent of the large-firm executives, in particular, said they would value the concentration.

The survey participants also said certain sustainability-related topics should be taught to all managers and executives. These areas include corporate social responsibility, sustainability strategy, measuring sustainability, sustainability-related product and process improvement, and environmental and health policy and business.

“There is an indication that companies are beginning to hire executives in sustainability-related positions, and it won’t be too long before these executives fill out their staffs with lower-level positions,” says Dooley, who is also academic director of The Sustainability Consortium, a group working to drive innovation to improve consumer-product sustainability. “Also, more ‘green’ companies and non-governmental organizations are emerging, and they need all types of professionals in management, marketing, accounting, purchasing and other fields, who also have knowledge of sustainability.”

Dooley says job applicants who receive “golden opportunities” are those with dual degrees in sustainability and another professional field, or those with an undergraduate degree in one area and a graduate degree in the other.

The W. P. Carey School of Business currently offers a Bachelor of Arts in Business with a concentration in sustainability. More than 350 students are taking advantage of this program, which includes a traditional, high-caliber business core, along with courses focused on sustainability. On the graduate side, the W. P. Carey School of Business recently added sustainability as an area of emphasis for MBA students. Other sustainability coursework has also been added to master’s and executive education programs.

“Sustainability is solutions-focused,” explains Christopher Boone, associate dean for education and professor in ASU’s School of Sustainability. “Our students want to tackle real-world problems, and we want our students to demonstrate to future employers why a sustainability approach adds value to organizations. As such, students in the School of Sustainability are required to have a meaningful internship or participate in a client-driven workshop. As our alumni network grows and sustainability becomes mainstream, I see fantastic opportunities for students with a sustainability education.”

Phoenix-area foreclosure rate drops for third straight month

June 15, 2011

Homeowners in the hard-hit Phoenix market will be encouraged to hear that foreclosure rates have now dropped for three months in a row. A new report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University reveals the positive development for those hoping for some stability in their neighborhoods.

In May, foreclosures represented about 35 percent of the existing-home transactions in the Phoenix-area housing market. That’s a big improvement from January and February, when the rate was 43 percent. It’s also a continued decline from 38 percent in March and 36 percent in April. Still, the report’s author cautions the downward trend may not continue. Download Full Image

“Although the number of foreclosure pre-filings has been declining for the last several months, this trend is not unusual in the early part of any year, with a typical pickup over the next few months,” explains associate professor of real estate Jay Butler. “While any decline is positive, fundamental uncertainty remains as to whether foreclosures will cease to be the dominant force in the market.”

Butler points to ongoing discussions about even stricter underwriting guidelines, inflationary concerns, changes in the secondary market and possible lowering of the Federal Housing Administration mortgage limit as factors that could strongly influence the market in the future. He also emphasizes that the job market and economy are still struggling.

More than 3,500 foreclosures happened in the market in May. Despite the recent monthly drops, that’s still up from more than 3,200 last May. When foreclosures are added together with the resales of previously foreclosed properties, they total up to 61 percent of the Valley’s recorded activity in May.

Overall, the number of transactions is relatively high in the market right now, as buyers try to lock in purchases before the start of schools and the holiday season. More than 10,000 existing homes changed hands in May. That’s up from more than 9,600 transactions last May.

The median price for existing homes resold in the market in May (not new foreclosures) was $125,000, the same as in March and April. That’s a big drop from last May’s $144,000 median price.

In the townhouse/condominium market, about 1,600 units changed hands in May, and 460 of those were foreclosures. That’s about even with 470 foreclosures last May. The median resale price for a townhome/condo in the market in May was $80,500, a fall from $83,325 in April and a big decline from $99,775 last May.

Butler’s full report, including statistics, charts and a breakdown by different areas of the Valley, can be viewed at" mce_href="">">htt.... More analysis is also available from Knowledge@W. P. Carey, the business school’s online resource and newsletter, at" mce_href="">">