green jobs hypeGreen career expert, Carol McClelland came to the Green Economy Post to answer your green career questions and they were some good ones. So, we decided to run a series of posts on some of the commonly asked green career questions. Carol McClelland, PhD, author of Green Careers For Dummies and Founder of Green Career Central

Today’s question  ….

When green jobs were being hyped in the media last year, I was really excited. But here we are a year later and there do not seem to be many green jobs. Do you know why? Will this ever change? If so, when do you think that will happen?

Jake Reilly

Carol McClelland says:

Hi Jake,

I feel your pain!! I think everyone was excited about green jobs a year ago! There are a few factors that are influencing the slower than desired/expected unfolding of the green economy.

1) The stimulus money was touted as the economic panacea that would allow green jobs to “sprout” instantaneously! The mainstream media didn’t really dig deeper into the story to share the full picture. A couple of facts to keep in mind.

—– Only 12% of the stimulus money that was distributed in 2009 was slated to go to green/sustainable projects. The vast majority of the money went to health and income security projects. Go to to track the funds landing in your region.

—– The stimulus money will continue to flow through 2012…in the last year, over 60% of the funds will go toward green/sustainable projects.

—- A lot of the stimulus money went to research institutions, which is a great sign for innovation in the long term, but it doesn’t produce jobs in the short term.

—- Most of the contracts/grants/loans from the stimulus funds had to go to “shovel ready” projects, those that could be launched within a few months. Many of the serious green/sustainable projects were just taking shape last year. They didn’t have sufficient plans in place to be able to leverage the stimulus money. VC money has been flowing to the clean tech/smart grid arena.

2) We are at the earliest stages of an economic shift that some are equating to another Industrial Revolution. The first and second Industrial Revolutions took 150 years to transform the agrarian economy into an industrial one. Although I doubt the shift to a low carbon/green/clean/sustainable economy will take 15 decades, I do believe it will take some time before we see the FULL impact of the economic shift.

Keep in mind that opportunities are out there. If you read Green Economy Post on a regular basis you know that there are developments happening every day. People are making those developments happen, which means they have green jobs!

3) I think the biggest frustration is for those who are hoping for job openings! I think it’s safe to say that the economic downturn of Fall 2008 had a detrimental effect on the green economy just as it has had on the traditional economy. We are starting to see signs that green companies are increasing their hiring plans. Some green industries are coming to life a bit faster than others, so you may or may not find jobs in the areas you are targeting.

4) Politically we’ve also hit some walls. The fact the health care bill was the focus of debate for so many months has meant that the Climate/Energy bill that has been in the Senate since June 2009 has not made as much progress as many of us hoped. There are, however, signs that this bill is making progress again. This bill will be something to track. Without a clear national plan (or knowing we aren’t going to have a national plan), it’s difficult for companies to invest to meet goals. It’s like jumping into a game when you don’t know the rules.

So. as you can see, there are a number of factors that have influenced the pace of growth in the green economy. What I’d recommend is that you focus your attention on your target industry. Choose the industry that is likely to be the best fit for your skills and interests. Then dig into understanding and tracking that industry. I promise you that there is more going on under the mainstream media’s radar. You may be amazed at how much is actually happening when you take a look.

Watch for signs of forward movement. Remember this is a complex transition with a lot of interlocking moving parts. The parts aren’t all coordinated at the moment, but there are signs that things are definitely still moving in a forward direction.

I hope this gives you a broader perspective of the green economy.

Recommended Green Career Resources Provided by Carol

SEVEN STEPS TO YOUR GREEN CAREER AUDIO – In this recorded audio program, Carol McClelland, shares a seven step plan you can follow to find your green career. In this audio you’ll discover: How to shorten the path to your green career with our 7-Step Action Plan; Tips to keep you moving forward to your goal; and answers to your questions about your next steps.

HOW TO SHORTEN YOUR PATH TO YOUR GREEN CAREER – This free ebook is a step-by-step process helping green career seekers use their passions, interests, experience, and training to plug into the green economy.

UNCOVERING YOUR GREEN NICHE – One of the most important skills you can have as a green career seeker is being able to articulate your green career niche. This free ebook shares the secrets of finding your green niche.

SIX STRATEGIES TO FIND YOUR GREEN CAREER – This free ebook is a step-by-step process helping green career seekers use their passions, interests, experience, and training to plug into the green economy.

© 2010, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Tracey de Morsella (323 Articles)

Tracey de Morsella started her career working as an editor for US Technology Magazine. She used that experience to launch Delaware Valley Network, a publication for professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Years later, she used the contacts and resources she acquired to work in executive search specializing in technical and diversity recruitment. She has conducted recruitment training seminars for Wachovia Bank, the Department of Interior and the US Postal Service. During this time, she also created a diversity portal called The Multicultural Advantage and published the Diversity Recruitment Advertising Toolkit, a directory of recruiting resources for human resources professionals. Her career and recruitment articles have appeared in numerous publications and web portals including Woman Engineer Magazine,, Job Search Channel, Workplace Diversity Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management web site, NSBE Engineering Magazine,, and Human Resource Consultants Association Newsletter. Her work with technology professionals drew her to pursuing training and work in web development, which led to a stint at Merrill Lynch as an Intranet Manager. In March, she decided to combine her technical and career management expertise with her passion for the environment, and with her husband, launched The Green Economy Post, a blog providing green career information and covering the impact of the environment, sustainable building, cleantech and renewable energy on the US economy. Her sustainability articles have appeared on Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Chem.Info,FastCompany and CleanTechies.

  • Dave

    So far in the UK the creation or green jobs has only benefited training companies jumping on the bandwagon. The European union created the Energy Performance Certificate to rate buildings energy efficiency. The UK Government created the role of the DEA to carry out the EPC, they left it private firms to provide the new qualification. The result was a massive oversupply and most have no work and others struggling to make it pay. The new UK Government have also watered down the EPC, making it virtually pointless, the EPC is a good example of a failed attempt at creating green jobs.

  • ferd

    Ms. McClelland makes valid points, but she could expand further. Although stimulus money can help, the real green job creation mechanism (as well as any other type of new job) is up to private business. There are two sources: existing companies that expand, and new start-ups. Existing companies aren’t investing much to grow their current businesses, let alone new (green) ventures. They’re afraid that the poor economy won’t support them, and they’ve been avoiding research and development for the past three decades. They continue to try to squeeze blood out of stones (forcing fewer and fewer people to work more and more) while pocketing any profits they might win. They don’t want to spend their own money on green ventures, and if they get any stimulus money they mostly keep it for themselves. Start-ups have lots of interesting but unproven ideas. Most new green technology requires a lot of start-up capital and patience for payback that can take years. Most lenders and venture capitalists do not want to bet on unproven technology and do not want to wait for profits. So far, Government stimulus packages are focused upon big existing companies (who would rather absorb the money than create new jobs) and are ignoring start-ups (who desperately need it). It’s baffling that our Government is doing this since we keep hearing reports that most new jobs come from start-ups and small businesses, not big old businesses. Indicates that the good ole boy network is still working, and we haven’t had any real change.

  • Ray Hart

    Looking up greenish agency web sites many jobs are for campaigning for green charities. Most greenies are self employed or working on a grant. The vast majority are in the ‘utopian’ category – everything should be free which is not sustainable. Yes, generosity, but until taxes and insurances can be paid by bartering then some money needs to be generated somethwhere. (With the state of world economies this could change quicker than expected).

    A certain amount of business sense is needed, or nominal donations made. Even £1/$1/1E etc. per person is better than nothing and in many cases in the UK grants are being cut.

    Business itself whilst often declaring green credentials tends to quote over the odds for greeny items considering then a luxury whereas often the raw materials are cheaper than the alternative.