Why are green jobs important today? We’ve witnessed an increase in the number of green jobs being promoted lately and as the growth is expected to continue, economists describe the 21st Century as a “Green Collar Era.” Why is that? Let’s explore few of the benefits we see happening.
At least 3.1 million Americans already work in green jobs and green industries and businesses could help solve some of any country’s biggest problems, from pollution to poverty and economic stagnation. A report released in october 2012 by the Economic Policy Institute takes a close look at green jobs data, and finds that the growth and benefits of the green economy are even stronger than we previously thought.
- Green industries seem to be growing faster than the overall economy. Clean energy jobs have grown nearly 2.5 times as fast as jobs in the rest of the economy.
- States with green jobs fared better during the economic downturn. In general, the greener a state’s economy is, the better it has done in the recession.
- Green jobs are manufacturing-heavy. Roughly one-fifth of all green jobs are in manufacturing. That’s important because manufacturing jobs are really needed as, for example, only America has lost roughly 5.5 million jobs in manufacturing since 2000.
Some of the sectors with the highest demand for green jobs are venture capital (VC) firms, utilities and environmental services. These sectors provide employment in a wide range of green positions including analysts, auditors, certifiers, economists, energy experts, engineers, investor relations, financial professionals, fund managers, lawyers, marketers, pricing specialists, researchers, scientists, and technical professionals.
According to the International Labor Organisation, right skills for green jobs are the prerequisite to make the transition to a greener economy happen. Today, skills gaps are already recognized as a major bottleneck in a number of sectors, such as renewable energy, energy and resource efficiency, renovation of buildings, construction, environmental services, manufacturing.
The European Union has tried to address the skills shortage for green jobs with specific training programmes. IDES-EDU is an EU-funded project run by the European Commission, which was created in order to respond to the need of ‘green’ professionals in Europe. In 15 universities throughout Europe, IDES-EDU offers Masters and Post-graduate courses for classes of, on average, 50 students, all above 21 years old.
”The project was market driven, there was a demand for it. As far as design is concerned, everything is going in the direction of retrofitting or low to zero energy. And if you will have this design you need to involve all these expertises and that’s what we are aiming for in our courses,” Peter Op ’t Veld, coordinator of the IDES-EDU project told EurActiv.
Green industries challenge that economic model. They prove that businesses can succeed without destroying our resources and our health. As the EPI report shows, green jobs are already a key part of our economy. Even in the face of an economic downturn — and with almost no long-term policy goals to send clear signals to the market — green businesses have been cutting pollution and providing millions of us with paychecks.
What do you think? What’s the impact of green jobs upon your lives?