Making Green Jobs Real

Rafaels_picGreen jobs are happening, and finding them has just gotten easier with the launch of GreenCareers, a collaborative effort between ecoAmerica, MonsterTRAK, and Environmental Defense. But more importantly, GreenCareers is part of a broader strategy to engage “environmentally agnostic” Americans in demanding greater innovation in environmental protection.

In the Limelight
There’s been much play about clean tech being, as noted venture capitalist John Doerr said, “[green technology] could be the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century.”  With investment soaring, not just domestically but internationally, up 158% in two years to a total of $100 billion in 2006, there are opportunities opening up in a huge range of companies and industries.

And the green jobs sector is now beginning to get attention.  Just this week Newsweek highlighted the sector:

With oil prices near record highs and more companies concerned about their carbon footprints, workers are finding job opportunities in the emerging green economy. Companies are hiring scientists to work on renewable-energy technology and business people to market earth-friendly products. Even if some of these nascent companies falter, there’s widespread conviction that this sector will become one of the country’s hottest employers.

GreenCareers & Defining Green Jobs
Into this stream of attention steps GreenCareers.  Specifically geared towards college students seeking to build careers which are not only profitable but also good for the planet, GreenCareers offers a full range of job opportunities for college students and new graduates.

But as Newsweek and others have noted, there is no authoritative definition of a “green job.”  GreenCareers uses a screening definition which recognizes a broader set of jobs than have traditionally been considered.  Not only obvious clean tech sector candidates qualify like solar power researchers but also everything from financial analysts to marketing specialists if they work for a “green company.”   Green companies can range from wind energy companies to carbon trading firms to environmental advocacy organizations.

But there are clearly grey zones.  What do you do with “environmental, health and safety” compliance?  We said no, since compliance positions are too often focused on meeting the minimum legal requirements.  We are really looking for proactive environmental benefit.  What about jobs with companies that may be problematic?  We have positions within divisions of petroleum firms that specialize in renewables and energy efficiency.  We said yes, since there is a net benefit there not only in terms of the direct results of the work but hopefully over time even problematic energy companies may come to grow those divisions into a majority of their work.  Few jobs have no negative impact but the key is to have substantive proactive positive impact.  This sets a bar to achieve for employers and makes it meaningful for the job seekers.

The Bigger Picture
But this project is more than just about helping college students find jobs.  It’s about changing the very image of what “environmental” means to all college students, whether they visit GreenCareers or not. 

Despite the confusing mix of polls and spike in media attention to global warming, the reality is the majority of Americans do not view global warming as a top tier issue when compared to challenges such as health care or terrorism.

The only solution is to reach critical audiences who can absorb, retain and diffuse a new perspective based on the value of environmental action to their immediate day-to-day lives.  In Advertising Age’s latest student survey, Anderson Analytics partner Tom Anderson noted:

While the college group is one of the smallest demographically in the U.S. — about 18 million projected by the U.S. Census this year vs. around 80 million baby boomers — it is one of the most influential. And the one paid most homage by marketers.  They have huge impact on what their parents buy, and then they have their own money, more than any other generation before them, and of course they are the consumers of tomorrow.

By making green jobs a concrete reality, we look to change college students’ views on the environment from something remote to something full of opportunity for their lives.  In turn, they will drive progress by pushing companies to create more such opportunities.

No Responses to “Making Green Jobs Real”

  1. Thanks for bringing these to my attention. Every thing is going to go green sooner than we all think. Thanks again.

  2. You may also be interested in my roundup of 16 green job listing sites ( http://www.greendealsdaily.com/blog/greenjobs/ ).

  3. With the downturn in the economy, there will be a need for well-paying jobs. Hope you can get some of the newly-unemployed retooled for green jobs and infrastructure rebuilding (in a more sustainable fashion)l.

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