Most working professionals have a set of skills learned on their current jobs that they seek to apply to jobs in the green economy. What is needed, in most cases, is to repackage the skill sets they already have. The first step is to research the target company’s web site and read up about the industry to understand the relevant sustainability issues they face. You may also want to contact the AFL-CIO or research new solar and wind products.
Economic activity around the world has acquired a green tinge. Words like energy efficiency, sustainability, waste elimination and recycling have become common place. More companies are publishing sustainability reports where they proudly report reductions in materials and energy usage. Job ads are increasingly looking for people who can work on sustainability issues and these have spawned a new class of green-collar jobs.
Obama administration has announced plans to spend $150 billion on new technologies to create 5 million new green jobs. Of this, $60 billion has been committed to clean energy sources and $11 billion to improve the sustainability of federal, state and municipal buildings. The Ford motor company secured a $5.9 billion loan to retool its old trucks and SUV manufacturing plants to produce fuel efficient cars by labeling the spend as a shift to greener technology!
Defining Green-collar jobs
Over the years, we have come to broadly define blue-collar jobs as work done primarily on a factory floor and white-collar jobs as work done at office desks and in front of computer screens. There is, as yet, no commonly acceptable definition of green collar jobs. For example, work on the assembly line of a gasoline engine car is defined as blue-collar while the same or similar work on an electric car is labeled green-collar.
All employment in the solar or wind power industry is defined as green-collar jobs. An accountant or telephone operator working for a solar power company does nothing different from similar professionals in any other company. Some critics argue that the manufacturing solar panels or wind turbines uses material and energy and causes carbon emissions. It is only when these are used to produce power that there is a green benefit. The argument whether a particular job is green or not is immaterial to the fact that the renewable energy industry that employs some 8.5 million people now is projected to employ 40 million by the year 2030.
Some companies like Dow Chemical are introducing new green products to the market place like Solar Roof Shingles. Obviously electricians and roofers will want to learn more about these products so that they can repackage their skills. Also the AFL-CIO has established a Center for Green Jobs, which is a good place to start if you are a union member.
The fascination for green goes beyond manufacturing. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics is seeking to label the jobs of bus drivers and subway train operators as “green”, arguing that their jobs reduce usage of pollution causing personal cars. This is perhaps to produce a favorable report card for the administration’s green jobs program.
Preparing yourself for a green-collar job
Most working professionals have a set of skills learned on their current jobs that they seek to apply to jobs in the green economy. What is needed, in most cases, is to repackage the skill sets they already have. The first step is to research the target company’s web site and read up about the industry to understand the relevant sustainability issues they face.
For example, anyone seeking employment in a power generation or distribution company needs to be aware of renewable energy, green house gas emissions and such topics, even if the job sought is of a non-technical nature.
In a purchasing job, for example, there is need to be aware of terms like the carbon footprint of the supply chain and encouraging suppliers to use recycled material. In the past the purchase agent may have looked at the same issue as transportation cost or reducing material cost.
In the construction industry, the issues of energy efficiency and use of natural light to reduce lighting have always been there. These need to get repackaged into current terminology.
Over the next 10 to 20 years, the number of green-collar jobs is certainly going to increase all around the world and this career path could be more rewarding and sustainable than the traditional blue or white collar jobs.
About the author: <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Bethany is a blogger by profession. She loves writing on technology and luxury. Beside this she is fond of gadgets. Recently she read an article on green architecture. Now days she is busy in writing an article on biomass energy.
Photo by: AFL-CIO