Green Jobs, Part 5: How to Prepare Jobseekers for the Green Economy

Published on May 20, 2009

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Emsi Burning Glass

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This paper is meant as a practical guide to help workforce, education, economic development professionals (and any other sort of career counselor) understand green jobs and be able to offer solid advice to young people and jobseekers so they can get on the right track and in the context of the demands of the regional economy. This paper will cover: (1) how to think about and approach training for green jobs, (2) how government policy might play out across industries and occupations, (3) how you can create industry and occupation analysis for your own area, and (4) how the entrepreneurial perspective is vital in all of this.

This paper also builds on our previous four papers on the subject of green jobs, which you can review here.

Contact Information
Rob Sentz (

For a PDF of Green Jobs, Part 5 click here

Introduction: What is a green job?

With so much talk about green jobs, you would expect an abundance of available jobs and training for jobseekers to pursue. However, because the green movement is still young and green jobs lack the well-established economic characteristics and relationships found within traditional industry sectors (retail, manufacturing, finance, etc.) training programs, classifications, and actual job descriptions are either not really in place or are perhaps a bit vague and not connected to a job market that is ready to hire. As a result, there is some confusion about green jobs by planners and jobseekers. In a recent article Pamela Murray, Portland Community College’s dean of workforce, economic, and community development, talked about how the job market (green or otherwise) is perhaps not ready for the many jobseekers that need employment now.

” ‘While we are still training people, the job market isn’t going to be able to support them necessarily when they come out . . . Manufacturing and renewable energy are other areas in which demand for jobs probably will increase, but that may not help you if you are going to be graduating in June,’ she said.”

The article continues:

” ‘There is buzz around green jobs such as wind technician and energy analyst, but for the most part the jobs aren’t there yet. . . Our big concern is, when these people are done with training, will the jobs be there,’ she said.”

A lot of this has to do with the recession and the fact that the green movement is, in many ways, currently being propped up by government programs that have been rapidly developed and deployed and haven’t really manifested themselves in the real world.

So what can career centers, colleges, or other agencies do to help local jobseekers? In order to provide the best possible advice it is important to understand and communicate what is actually known about green jobs and how this sector is going to (or might) manifest itself in the real world and particularly on a regional level.

The goal of this paper is therefore to provide information that local planners can use to better understand green jobs, how they can think about preparing workers for these jobs, and how this movement might play out in the local economy. We will break the discussion down into two parts. Chapter one will focus on the big picture of how to understand and look at green jobs and Chapter two serves more as a guidebook to how local practitioners can develop their own analysis. To conclude the paper we have a quick discussion on how and why entrepreneurs are going to be so important to this movement.

Read Chapter one here

Read Chapter two here

Read the conclusion here