California Green Jobs Report A Mixed Bag

The University of California, Berkeley has released a report that provides an analysis of how the state of California can improve their clean energy programs in order to meet projected goals. Titled “California Workforce Education and Training Needs Assessment for Energy Efficiency, Demand Response and Distributed Generation,” the project was required under the 2008 California Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan and paid for by state utility users under the California Public Utilities Commission.

The study estimates that there will be $11.2 billion worth of public and private investments by 2020 in renewable projects, creating over 200,000 jobs in the state. Not all of those jobs will in the green sector, but those that are will reside primarily in construction, such as electricians, carpenters, and sheet metal workers. The report, however, also found several potential problems that will hinder progress and optimization.

green jobs study, Copenhagen Consensus Center

image via St. Francis University

While the study suggests workers will be available for the projected job growth, researchers fear that not enough emphasis is being placed in training programs for residential energy efficiency retrofits. The housing industry, they found, has lower wagers and higher turn over than commercial construction, but is also the focus of major public policy initiatives.

The report concludes that more stringent efficiency certificates for workers should be adopted, as well as greater enforcement for building codes. These two changes, the researches say, will result higher skilled employees who, in turn, receive better pay and have greater job stability. As well, the study finds that education and training should focus on updating traditional occupations to be greener, instead of creating new, short-term programs. The full report can be downloaded on the University’s website.

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Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.

  • Milan Moravec

    Green job workforce needs employer-employee loyalty for sustainable employability. As businesses, universities, states, counties, cities worldwide stumble through the recession some find themselves in a phase of creative disassembly. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are shed. World class University of California Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau ($500,000 salary) and his $7.2 million outside consultants is firing employees via his “Operational Excellence (OE)”: 2,000 axed by end 2011. Yet many cling to an old assumption: the implied, unwritten management-employee contract.

    Management promised work, upward progress for employees fitting in, employees accepted lower wages, performing in prescribed ways, sticking around. Longevity was good employer-employee relations; turnover a dysfunction. None of these assumptions apply in the 21 century economy. Businesses, universities, public institutions can no longer guarantee careers, even if they want to. Managements paralyzed themselves with a strategy of “success brings successes” rather than “successes brings failure’ and are now forced to break implied contract with employees – a contract nurtured by management that future can be controlled.

    Jettisoned employees are discovering that hard won knowledge earned while loyal is no longer desired in employment markets. What contract can employers, employees make with each other?

    The central idea is simple, powerful: job is a shared partnership.
    • Employers, employees face financial conditions together; longevity of partnership depends on how well customers, constituencies needs are met.
    • Neither management nor employee has future obligation to the other.
    • Organizations train people.
    • Employees create security they really need – skills, knowledge that creates employability in 21st century economies
    • The management-employee loyalty partnership can be dissolved without either party considering the other a traitor.

    Turn the light on for sustained employability in the 21st century economy