What are green collar jobs? What effect will green collar jobs have on the economy? And how can we promote green collar jobs? In this video, Bracken Hendricks, Senior Fellow with Center for American Progress discusses How to Rebuild the Economy with Green Collar Jobs
Below is the text of his presentation.
Bracken Hendricks on Green Jobs
What are green collar jobs?
Solving global warming and breaking our dependence on imported oil and carbon-based energy means a whole new generation of investment into the very foundation of our economy. This is an opportunity to create new manufactured goods for export markets to a world that’s hungry for low-carbon energy and new energy technology. It’s an opportunity to invest in the efficiency of our homes, our cities, our rural communities as we create new transportation options, as we retrofit public buildings, as we retrofit homes to use less energy and provide the same quality of life, or even better. When we talk about green collar jobs, there are some very important attributes. These tend to be local, which means they’re hard to outsource. We take the very same dollar that we would normally spend on wasted energy, forming pollution, and driving up costs, and instead we spend that dollar on a skilled craftsman to swap out inefficient lighting or to test and balance an air conditioning system, or insulate a home. These are local investments in skilled workers within the community.
What effect will green collar jobs have on the economy?
In the last two years, we’ve see the loss of over 800,000 jobs in the construction trades. We’ve seen the loss of millions of jobs in manufacturing industries in the last decade. It’s been devastating to our economy. And today, oil and our oil imports cost over half a trillion dollars annually of money that flows out of our economy and into the hands of governments that are unstable and undemocratic in many cases, and often very hostile to our interests. We can take those very same funds and redirect them to rebuild our infrastructure, rebuild our manufacturing base, and create new opportunities for construction industries here at home. Oil is the largest single contributor to the recent spike in our trade imbalance, and we can start to shift that through a smart set of policies that encourage domestic investment and that reinvest in the foundation of our economy.
The Center for American Progress recently did a study with the University of Massachusetts, and we determined that if you spent 100 billion dollars in energy efficiency and renewable technology, you could create 2 million jobs. That’s four times the job creation of spending the same amount of money on oil. What happens is we’re driving more money into our local economy; we’re driving more money into public infrastructure that creates more broadly shared prosperity and more broadly shared economic opportunity, and this is a real engine for growth, for new economic activity, and it supports emerging industries and emerging markets, as well. So this is smart from the perspective of businesses, it’s smart from the perspective of workers, and it’s good environmental and energy policy that improves our security.
How can we promote green collar jobs?
Green collar jobs have a really exciting quality, which is that they are created across the entire base of the economy, everything from high end technical skilled jobs for engineers and architects, all the way through to laborers and people who are actually going to do the solid, blue collar, entry-level jobs in the construction trades. So if we understand the magnitude of the opportunity that’s created when we start to think about how to transition to a low carbon, a clean energy economy, we recognize that there’s going to be a huge wave of investment in these new, entry level jobs. And if we’re smart about the policies, we can match them with workforce investment and skill-building opportunities to train folks to do the work of a green economy, whether it’s installing a green roof or weatherizing a building. There’s a lot of work to be done, so having smart policies that link workforce investment and career training to the green investments that will come with a low-carbon economy are absolutely essential.
© 2009, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.