Green Economy: Slipping on the Green Collar

Some time ago, there was a lecture rocketing around the Internet about the pace of change. An interesting point it made was that something like half the jobs in 2010 didn’t exist in 2005.

I thought of it when I recently found an analysis that said the renewable energy and energy efficient industries would provide an astonishing 40 million jobs in the U.S. by the year 2030. There were only about 8.5 million of these “green-collar” jobs in the U.S. in 2006.

Now, while these numbers are eye-popping, they actually aren’t surprising. The trend toward “green-collar” jobs has been emerging for a while, but it’s really ramped up worldwide as realism about energy prices and global warming have taken root.

Heck, even here in B.C., the cleantech industry, which is really a subset of the general technology industry, is estimated to employ around 16,000 people. There are probably thousands more working in environmental operations that don’t involve pure technology.

So what’s a green-collar job? The definition is fuzzy, since it could involve anyone who touches energy or environmentalism. But colleges and universities—in the U.S. and even at Royal Roads and BCIT in B.C.—have an idea. They’re cranking out specialized degree programs in areas like eco-commerce, environmental accounting, green and social marketing, and ecological economics.

And, according to headhunting firms, other popular jobs include urban planners, forestry professionals and environmental lawyers. There is also a growing demand for architects and engineers with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

But that’s right now. There will be countless other new jobs springing up in a few years that haven’t even been dreamed of yet.

So, all you parents out there who are pressuring your kids to become lawyers, doctors, and accountants – the traditional professions – you might want to think about letting them follow their hearts and feed their environmental passions.

There’s apparently a future there.