Choose a new career in environmental health, says CIEH

23 September 2020, Ross Matthewman

CIEH is launching a new campaign, #ChooseEnvironmentalHealth, to encourage people to choose a new career in environmental health following the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the pandemic, Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) have held a variety of roles, which were central to the country’s response to the crisis.

EHPs working in local authorities have strong experience of investigating cases of infectious disease, such as Legionnaires’ disease or food poisoning outbreaks. They work to identify the cause of the infection, prevent the further spread of illness within the community, and provide information and advice to patients. These vital skills have been in short supply this year. EHPs work tirelessly on the front line to protect public health.

Their skills have been used to assist with contact tracing, managing local lockdowns, and providing infection control advice in care homes and other close contact settings. They have also provided valuable advice to businesses on how they can trade in a COVID-secure way and have key powers to enforce COVID-19 restrictions.

On World Environmental Health Day 2020 (26 September), CIEH’s campaign calls for more people to consider this dynamic, varied, and vital profession as their career choice. The theme of this year’s World Environmental Health Day is the vital role of EHPs in preventing disease pandemics. Part of the campaign will include an online careers fair to help explain the different routes into the profession.

Data released last month by CIEH found that 88% of graduates find employment or go into further study within six months of leaving accredited environmental health courses across the UK.

The varied skillset of this profession is also now beginning to be recognised in Government, with the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, making an announcement on 9 September that a new register of EHPs will be set up in order to boost capacity for local authorities.

Apart from infection control, environmental health is a very varied profession, using a variety of skills to investigate, problem solve, advise, and prosecute those who are harming the health of others. Work ranges from food safety and standards, to air quality and housing standards. Last year, CIEH launched a campaign to raise more awareness of what EHPs do, which features a series of case studies from EHPs working in a variety of sectors.

Debbie Wood, Executive Director for Membership and External Affairs at CIEH, said:

“Environmental health plays a key role in all of our lives, protecting our environment and our health.

The versatility of our members’ skills has been rightly recognised during this pandemic, being deployed in essential areas to ensure services are provided, the virus is contained, and people are kept safe and well.

On World Environmental Health Day this year, we hope that many people who may now be re-assessing their career options will choose environmental health and become a part of our remarkable story.”

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