In recent years, public opinion towards clean energy has shifted. As pictures of disappearing glacial lakes and stranded polar bears on melting icebergs become daily news, public awareness has reached new heights of concern. The public’s environmental consciousness is making people anxious about the effect our global footprint will have on future generations.
In response to these budding concerns, new “green” industries have sprouted. While most people are familiar with Solar and Wind energy, other industries such as Building Retrofitting, Geothermal Energy and Sustainable Agriculture are becoming more commonplace “green” career opportunities.
In California, the California Energy Commission acts as the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency; promoting energy efficiency and developing renewable energy and alternative fuel technology to support the public’s increased interest in advancing “green” energy research.
According to the Clean Energy Workforce Training Program (CEWTP), as California’s economy becomes increasingly dependent on “green” technology, future jobs will be found in the growing sustainable industry. CEWTP is currently working towards making California a leader in the new sustainable economy.
At present, the highest concentration of “green” jobs in California can be found within the San Francisco Bay Area—with over 120,000 green jobs concentrated in the region. Despite the growing interest and funding provided to green careers, the number of green workers remains relatively low.
While the green industry is projected to skyrocket as public interest focuses on environmental concerns, the tools to prepare future “green” workers remains limited. With over 70% of training to prepare current workers for green jobs relying on “On the Job Training,” the number of workers with classroom training or a related college degree comprise of less than 20% of the “green” workforce.
As public demand for green workers grows, colleges are seeing that there is a demand for these types of workers, “and they want to provide appropriate educational programs to meet that demand,” says Marisa Michaud of Eduventures, a higher-education research and consulting firm. Some colleges and universities are beginning to incorporate “green” degrees, such as sustainability, into their curriculum.
While student and public interest are fueling the crossover into a more “green” education, the choice to provide that training remains at the digression of the individual school districts and institutions.
While California is currently a leader in energy efficiency, without enough trained “green” professionals employed in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energy, further growth and development is not a possibility.