Since our launch in August of 2016, WorkingNation has had a very clear mission: tell stories about solutions to today’s workforce issues and point people in the direction of opportunities that will prepare them for the skills they need to get good, life-sustaining jobs or careers.
For the last two years, we have collectively held our breath while waiting for things to “return to normal.” But as we embark on the year 2022, we face a new challenge—one that is less about getting things back to the way they were and more about embracing a future that is entirely different from what we once imagined.
Social isolation, an unpredictable job market, and financial uncertainty have taken a mental and physical toll on the American worker, who has grown weary and exhausted. At present, it feels like our nation’s recovery hinges on instilling hope for a brighter tomorrow.
So, where do we begin? Our answer is with jobs.
We see job opportunities across the entire economy, but we believe one area that deserves a more in-depth look is the green economy. All too often, conversations about the environment focus solely on the threats to our planet. But protecting and repairing the environment is not just good news for our world, it is also good news for the American worker.
With the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act at the end of 2021, we know that most of the new infrastructure is being designed or built with climate resilience in mind—and with that comes the potential for massive job creation.
The world of work is changing rapidly and so are the skills needed to successfully compete in today’s workforce. The public and private sectors are already hard at work on initiatives and programs to ensure that all Americans have access to opportunities that will ready them for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
WorkingNation continues the work we started more than five years ago to tell stories that will point the American worker toward life-sustaining, purposeful jobs. With that in mind, we invite you to read, watch, and listen to our newest storytelling series, Green Jobs Now, in which we’ll showcase the enormous potential in the green economy, moving it to the foreground in the vital discussion about the future of work.
To help us better inform and shape our journalism, podcasts, and video content, we’ve partnered with two respected and established leaders in research, data collection, and data analysis—Emsi Burning Glass, a leading authority on job skills, workforce talent, and labor market dynamics, and MISI, an economic and energy research firm specializing in the environment.
From MISI, we learn that 9% of the American workforce is in a green job already and that number is expected to grow enormously over the next decade. From Emsi Burning Glass, we learn there were 259,230 job postings in the green economy in 2021, a 17% increase over the previous year.
So, what do you need to know to be a part of this growth?
Green Jobs Now
Using the original research and analysis, and our skills as journalists and storytellers, Green Jobs Now will answer the following questions:
- What is a green job? Is the current definition too narrow?
- Where are the green jobs of today and who is hiring?
- What skills are employers looking for to fill these jobs?
- How can you acquire the skills that you need to make you employable in this space for years to come?
It is vitally important to reconsider and expand upon the traditional definition of a green job in order for workers, employers, workforce groups, advocacy teams, and policymakers to see these jobs as an economic driver regionally and nationally in a way they may not have considered before.
Federal authorization for new infrastructure will undoubtedly create jobs in construction, water purification, and solar or electric energy associated with these upgrades. But what about the architects and engineers doing these designs? What about workers installing climate-friendly insulation or water-efficient plumbing in office buildings and homes, which directly and positively impact the environment?
Our research tells us those are green jobs, too.
Also, tech companies, law firms, hospitals, and retail are already hiring for green positions, but the language describing those jobs is too narrow to connect them to the environment. So, these opportunities are not counted as green—even though they should be. We believe this redefinition and reconsideration is necessary to change how state and local leaders and labor groups talk about the jobs in their region in a way that is inspirational and shows growth.
Over the next year, here on WorkingNation.org, we will use our original research to tell stories in our Green Jobs Now series on a national, state, and local level. We will be talking to employers whose businesses have already embraced the green economy, and we will introduce you to the training programs that will prepare jobseekers with the valued and in-demand skills they need to thrive in this space.
We kick it all off on Friday, January 14, with the debut of our new podcast Work Green, Earn Green with host Jay Tipton, a former WorkingNation producer and current environmental protection scholar. You can check out a preview of the podcast here, then sign up at the link to get updates.
Our first in-depth look at opportunities in individual states begins January 28 with a special green jobs report on Pennsylvania. Look for an article about the report and a training program that is helping skill-up local residents on our home page, along with a new I Want That Job! video highlighting some of the jobs now available in the Keystone State. There will also be a new episode of the Work Green, Earn Green podcast looking at the green job market there. Then, every two weeks, we will tell you stories about green jobs in a new state. Keep up-to-date here and follow us on social media with the hashtag #GreenJobsNow.
Thanks to the Walton Family Foundation and other funders for making this important and timely discussion of green jobs possible.
We hope that our stories will inspire Americans to appreciate that not only can they attain a great job in any number of sectors, but their work can have a tangible impact on the environment, even if they are not employed in occupations traditionally considered green.
Joan Lynch is WorkingNation’s chief content and programming officer and has overseen all aspects of our content since our launch.