Where to Find a Pipeline of Workers for Green Jobs

Over 130 countries have confirmed that in honor of Earth Day (April 22), they will be in attendance when the Paris Climate Change Agreement opens for signature. This agreement reinforces a collective international commitment to environmental stewardship, but employers in the United States do not need to wait for international action—they can commit to taking care of the environment by training the next generation of our workforce for green jobs and careers. ‘Going green’ doesn’t just pay for the Earth; according to the Council of Economic Advisers, green jobs pay 10 to 20% more than other jobs.

So what is a Green Job? No single definition exists, but the White House suggests that at the highest level, green jobs “contribute in some way to the improvement of environmental quality.” Thus, green jobs not only benefit the employee as an individual, but contribute to the creation of a more sustainable environment for all of us.

The following list of organizations are focused on closing the opportunity gap with an understanding that preparing young adults for green jobs serves the dual purpose of taking care of our environment and offering the next generation a sustainable skillset that will put them on the path to professional success:
  1. Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps (SRCC) is the largest education and workforce training program in the Sacramento area for young adults ages 18-25. SRCC simultaneously provides corps members with educational achievement and work experience while offering multiple ‘green’ services for the Sacramento area including solar panel installation, vegetation clearing, park and parkway maintenance, and fire fuel load reduction, to name a few.
  2. Louisiana Green Corps (LAGC) is a 501(c)3 non-profit which provides environmental education and career building opportunities to people aspiring to improve their lives and the Louisiana community. Through the Youth Construction and Conservation Corps, LAGC offers young adults between 18 and 24 years of age the opportunity to receive nationally recognized certification training, soft skills training and performance incentives while undertaking environmentally restorative projects in the community such as maintaining public trails, planting trees and rehabilitating blighted homes.
  3. Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) is a non-profit located in Denver, CO that has been working to lower our environment footprint since 1992. Today, MHYC engages more than 200 youth ages 16 to 24 every year through several comprehensive programs that integrate paid work experience on community service projects with leadership development, career exploration and education. MHYC operates on a triple-bottom line model that focuses on the Social, Economic, and Environmental impact. In 2014 MHYC helped conserve 51,424,803gallons of water, built 77 units of green housing, and saved taxpayers $274,428 while also providing 232 jobs for youth for a total of $1.4M in earned income.
  4. Green Opportunities (GO) connects youth and adults from low-wealth neighborhoods in Asheville, North Carolina to sustained employment opportunities that support families and improve community and environmental health. GO’s Youth Corps program provides educational and vocational pathways for low-income young adults between the ages of 18-24. Along with ‘green’ job training, GO provides wrap-around support for program participants with soft skill training, community engagement, and career placement post-program. Since its founding, GO has trained over 300 members and issued more than 662 technical certifications, resulting in an immediate economic impact on Buncombe County, North Carolina of over $1.5M.
  5. The Corps Network operates in all 50 states to lead and support over 130 of America’s Service and Conservation Corps. Corps workforce development programs engage a diverse group of young people, ages 16-25, in service projects, job training and academic programming while providing a wealth of conservation, infrastructure improvement and human service projects that have been identified as important by local communities. In 2015, Corps members retrofitted more than 16,000 low income homes for energy efficiency, recycled over 17 million gallons of water, and earned more than 8,000 professional certifications.

The GradsofLifeVoice Forbes team provides thought leadership, research and expert commentary on innovative talent pipelines and related issues such as the skills gap, income inequality, workforce diversity, and the business case for employment pathways. We seek to change employers’ perceptions of young adults with atypical resumes from social liabilities to economic assets. This post was originally featured here.

Diversity, Hiring & Retention Practices, Workforce Development,
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