What are they?
In recent years, as the need for climate change action has risen, we have witnessed the emergence of Green Jobs. This refers to all those roles dedicated to tackling climate change, from chemical engineers working within the renewable energy industry to solar panel technicians and low-carbon farmers. The United Nations Environment Program defines Green Jobs as “work in agriculture, manufacturing, research and development, administrative, and service activities that contribute(s) substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality.” Green Jobs are essential in the fight for planetary protection.
What sectors do they cover?
Due to this overarching goal of preserving the environment, Green Jobs can be found across a range of sectors:
Green jobs in a post-Covid world
This trajectory of growth in Green Jobs has been on the rise, currently producing 9.5 million jobs in the US, and this has been accelerated further by the recent Coronavirus pandemic. Whilst this event was undoubtedly catastrophic, devastating the economy and turning the job landscape into a sort of economic graveyard, we are coming out the other side in a rather unusual position. Due to the increased rates of redundancy and job insecurity, we can actually now re-build and reconfigure the makeup of the job world in a different way. By shifting the focus to promoting the welfare of the planet, jobs that previously did not fall under the ‘green’ label can be enveloped within the industry. We have the chance to “build back better” as emphasised by the G7 Ministers during their meeting on Climate and Environment. Attitudes are already transitioning to a more green outlook, and now we have the opportunity to align this with the economy. For instance, large corporations like Nike and IKEA are already taking up more sustainable practices, such as sourcing from sustainable foresters and redesigning boxes to reduce packaging.
Also, the International Energy Agency has estimated the potential for up to 2.5 million new jobs each year as part of the Covid-19 recovery scheme, so those jobs lost over the course of the pandemic could be counteracted by a rise in Green Jobs. Hence, despite the pandemic being a devasting force on peoples’ livelihoods, we could use this as an opportunity to reinvent the world of work in a way that not only protects the environment but ensures greater job security for more people.
A new meaning for green jobs
In response to the pandemic and shifting attitudes, Green Jobs are starting to transcend their traditional sectors and infiltrate the rest of the economy. Existing jobs are being reconfigured to achieve sustainable and green production and processes (recall the previous example of Nike and IKEA). As stated by James Watts, co-founder of BrewDog, “Sustainability should not be a bolt-on; it needs to be a core part of everyone’s role, regardless of their job title.” More and more jobs are placing green values at the heart of their philosophies, even those not directly involved in environmental work. Daniel Esty, author of The Green to Gold Playbook for Businesses, made the point that companies are increasingly finding customers to “judge the overall quality of their brand based on response and policies regarding the environment.” Even if businesses or jobs are not explicitly labelled “green”, people are still seeking jobs that maintain the associated principles. So perhaps we require a new definition. The title of ‘Green Jobs’ is no longer limited to those specific roles that function within the various environmental sectors. It has become a term representing the global transition to a greener economy.
A question still remains; how do I actually get into a Green Job? As with any career, there are certain things you can do to make your way into the industry and the same goes for Green Jobs. This can range from getting involved with projects and events in your local community, to enrolling on relevant college courses, to utilising platforms like LinkedIn to build connections with people already in the industry. However, here I will provide some specific examples of pathways into a Green Job to highlight the routes one might take to enter the industry.
In general, getting work experience, attaining relevant qualifications and reaching out to the big players in your desired sector, are the best steps one can take to secure a Green Job.
*Landbased industries covers a range of roles from farming to animal care, forestry or conservation.