Who Will Get All the New Green Jobs?

Who Will Get All the New Green Jobs

A thorough report from Next 100 that can help inform your thoughts about transitioning to a green job: Who Will Get All the New Green Jobs? Here’s the summary:

This summer and fall’s record-breaking flooding, forest fires, and heat waves have reminded us all that the impacts of climate change are here today and will get worse in the years to come. These impacts have, as always, been borne disproportionately by low-income people and people of color, and at the same time, these groups have suffered the most in terms of health and deaths during the pandemic. Having lost their jobs or worked in unsafe conditions that don’t pay family-sustaining wages over the last two years, many Americans have realized they want their work to provide not just economic security, but also meaningful contributions to their communities. The hundreds of billions of dollars that are likely about to flow to green infrastructure investments through the bipartisan infrastructure framework and the Democrats’ reconciliation package in Congress present an opportunity to address all these challenges, spurring a significant transformation of society.

This report includes an overview of workforce development and includes related policy and implementation recommendations that will support a just transition to a clean energy economy. Workforce development refers to policies and programs that center the would-be employees—rather than the businesses—involved in economic development projects. These policies and programs often focus on education and training, job quality, and support for businesses that employ specific groups of people. In an ideal world, workforce development is fully integrated into the planning and implementation of economic development projects. When a new public transit line or wind farm is built, a strong workforce development strategy can help funnel the newly created jobs to the people and communities who have historically not realized the benefits of economic growth. When those projects receive public funding, as large infrastructure investments generally do, governments can require a workforce strategy that advances equity.

This report details a set of federal, state, and local policy and implementation recommendations spanning training, job quality, and business development. They can be tailored to ensure that new green jobs (defined below) go to people in environmental justice communities who might not otherwise get them and have not had access to jobs in industries that will be vital to a just transition, such as construction and manufacturing. Groups that stand to benefit from tailored policies include people of color, adult learners, opportunity youth, women, the formerly incarcerated, immigrants, individuals experiencing homelessness, veterans, people with disabilities, and other groups that have historically not benefited from employment created by major infrastructure investments.

This report was informed by over sixty interviews with: workforce, climate, sustainability, resiliency, and energy experts inside and outside of government; environmental and workforce advocates; job training providers; educational institutions; clean energy employees, entrepreneurs, and other participants in the “green” private sector; and organized labor. The author’s sincere thanks go to the interviewees for their time and candor. This report includes policy recommendations based on the most cited needs from those interviewed and what advocates and researchers have pinpointed as key areas for improvement. Read the full report on Next 100.

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