EDF Climate 411 Blog - August 4, 2008
The employment situation in the U.S. is grim. July marked seven straight months of job losses, with no sign of improvement. The July jobless rate of 5.7 percent was the highest in over four years, with 51,000 jobs lost. (As a writer, I can't help but note that the situation for journalists is especially grim - dubbed the "Midsummer Massacre".)
One bright spot in this generally depressing picture is the green economy. This encompasses much more than employment at renewable energy firms; there's a whole supply chain that benefits, as well. But even when you consider only the renewable energy jobs, the surge is impressive - especially given the context.
Gristmill recently described the huge number of jobs available in the wind power industry, confirming that the buzz is very real. A representative from the American Wind Energy Association was reported saying "we need people yesterday."
The same thing is happening with solar power. In California alone, solar power has created thousands of new jobs, with thousands more expected. There is a shortage of qualified workers here, too.
An Ecopreneurist article on whether green collar jobs were affected by the shaky economy described "enormous demand" from companies, but a shortage of qualified candidates.
It's not that job seekers aren't trying to meet the need. Treehugger reports that Solar Energy International is experiencing a "huge explosion" of interest in training courses - a 14 percent increase in enrollment in just the last year. (For those interested, the article also lists other places that offer solar industry training.)
And despite all this action, renewable energy is still in its infancy, providing only a tiny fraction of U.S. energy needs. We are not even close to seeing its full, revitalizing potential on our job market and economy. A national cap-and-trade bill will open the flood gates.
This post is by Sheryl Canter, an online writer and editorial manager at Environmental Defense Fund.