Saturday, November 16, 2013

Green Jobs

The Greening of the Job Market
* Today's article was written by Barbara parks - As founder of Green Career Tracks, Barbara specializes in career planning and tracking for people who care about the environment and want to work for a more sustainable future through conscious career choices. She has a solid track record as a career coach helping hundreds of individuals gain meaningful work that supports ecological, social and economic sustainability in a changing, challenging marketplace. She is frequently asked to speak on green jobs and career opportunities and is currently working to complete her second book, Your Green Parachute: How to Land a Good Job in the Growing Green Economy.
Visit her at

The green economy is growing rapidly, reshaping and revitalizing the American economy and job market. Its growth rate is, in fact, higher than that of the "non-green" economy; as a movement, it promises to rival the Industrial Revolution and the technological revolution in creating career opportunities.

That's good news for the ailing employment market. But it has everyone scrambling to understand what a green job market means, exactly. In an effort to capture the language of this revolution, media coverage has made "green" the hottest buzzword in the news today. We're informed about the green economy, green business, green careers, green jobs, and green collar jobs on a daily basis in all forms of media.

Unfortunately, these terms are used and misused in ways that create confusion rather than clarity. As a career coach specializing in careers in environmental industries and market sectors, I get calls and emails every day from jobseekers who want to align their commitment to creating a more sustainable world with the kind of work they do. The first words I most frequently hear are, "I'm confused. I don't know where to start."

I usually start by clarifying some terms that have been widely used and accepted within the industry:

Green careers are emerging from the growth and development of new industries and market sectors. From green building to renewable energy, waste management to natural resources management, sustainable agriculture to transportation to "smart growth," career professionals, professional associations, and educational and training programs are shaping new green career tracks.

Green business opportunities provide a process, a product, or a service that saves or re-uses natural resources. The variety of green entrepreneurial ventures is evidenced in local and national green business directories.

Green jobs are, essentially, any kind of work you can think of that promotes sustainability. The possibilities are unlimited, with new job titles being created daily in the hidden job market, though many jobseekers are holding tight until they see the hard data about job descriptions, salaries, hiring statistics, and training requirements.

Green-collar jobs are a subset of green jobs defined in the Green Jobs Act, which was included in the 2007 Energy Bill. Government-subsidized programs will provide $125 million a year for training in installation, repair, and maintenance type jobs aimed at helping minorities, low-income and hard-to-serve job seekers to "use the green economy as a pathway out of poverty.". For example, government regulations requiring buildings to be more energy efficient will create work retrofitting buildings all across America with solar panels and other renewable energy materials.

And then there's green stealth, a term referring to intentionally opting to work "undercover" in one's current job, advocating for sustainability principles and procedures within the company or organization.

After nailing down those basic terms, I advise my clients to focus less on the "g" word and more on what it represents in the job market. Greening the job market should provoke discussion and debate. We are far from having all the answers. 

At this point, we need to be out in the community asking the questions: 
What is a green job? 
Where are the green jobs? 
How can green jobs build strong, local economies?

Green may be the first word in describing jobs and careers that focus on the ideals of profit, people, and the planet, but it won't be the last. We have a long way to go before we solve the climate change crises and create a more environmentally-friendly, social, and just world.

We may even get a little green around the gills hearing the "g" word before the wave of the environmental movement becomes the norm and all business practices, careers, and jobs are naturally green.

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