The Environmental and Energy Study Institute just released a jam-packed, five-page fact sheet on energy efficiency and renewable energy jobs. National and state figures from different sources carry the punch line that in 2012 alone, there were over 110,000 jobs created in the clean energy sector.
It references the Bureau of Labor Statistics' green jobs definition and their calculation of 3.4 million green jobs in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2011. Some of the figures go back three or four years; some numbers are forecasted.
The result is a sizable one, that green jobs do add up and contribute to a rebounding economy. So, let's herald this news and stop cringing about the hyped expectation of green jobs.
I often look to Dr. Sarah White from the Center of Wisconsin Strategy for guidance. Last November, Sarah spoke at our Clean Energy Workforce Education Conference with this sage statement: “Green jobs are not a myth, not a failed initiative, they simply got mixed up with a failed economy."
Equally visionary, Dr. Debra Rowe forecasts that "every job will have a green tinge to it."
And, that's exactly what we're seeing.
There are green jobs such as the obvious system installer, energy auditor and designer. And there are an ever increasing span of jobs that blend green skill sets with traditional ones. That's why we are at meetings with groups such as the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, the International Association of Electrical Inspectors and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, to name a few.
We see green skills training blending into other educational programs. Hudson Valley Community College embedded two new PV courses that can be taken as part of their existing Associate in Occupational Studies two-year degree program. Lane Community College created a Renewable Energy Technician option as part of its two-year Associate in Applied Science Degree program for energy management technicians. Trade apprenticeship programs add to their core training advanced-training options such as photovoltaics.
This doesn't mean we stop tracking renewable energy and energy efficiency jobs. The Solar Foundation's annual census reports are critical to matching jobs with market growth.
It means it's time to look beyond the obvious - to other indicators that green jobs do come in other colors.
Lead image: Colored hardhats via Shutterstock
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