White Collar, Blue Collar, Green Collar?
We are all quite familiar with the colorful distinction of the different employment sectors. White collar employment includes salaried professionals and clerical workers. Blue collar employment involves manual labor. Now a third sector is emerging and is growing in both popularity and support: the green collar workers.
Green collar jobs involve products and services that are environment-friendly. Any organization that seeks to improve upon the environment is considered “green”; and if it employs individuals to that affect, then it has created green collar jobs. Green collar jobs include any that involve the design, manufacture, installation, operation, and/or maintenance of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. And the green collar sector is booming; it is currently the fifth largest market sector in the US.
Not only are most of us surprised by this ‘green’ addition to the collared-employment designation, but we may be equally surprised by how prevalent this topic is being debated at the federal level. Global warming is an en vogue topic of discussion for the government, and the economy is a traditional favorite. Put the two items together and you have a win-win situation for intense congressional debate. Energy bills aside, congress is now even promoting energy efficiency through workforce programs and incentives. They are advocating the creation of green collar jobs.
Spearheaded by Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), many believe that environmental consciousness can be furthered by the creation of green collar jobs in renewable energy. They are proposing millions of dollars in competitive grant monies to states that exhibit labor exchange and training programs in the green sector. Those organizations that demonstrate leadership in such programs, and in their promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency, will be given preference for these grants.
Now although such green-collar federal grants haven’t yet made it off the congressional floor, the push for such jobs in renewable energy is already alive in many cities across the nation. San Francisco, California is one of those cities whose residents patron the businesses and organizations that actively promote renewable energy in their business practices or through the creation of green collar jobs. In similar support, Washington D.C. just launched a ‘green jobs’ initiative that invests in its workforce through environmentally conscious programs, such as renewable energy solutions.
This, of course, is just a taste of the green collar revolution. If cities, companies and organizations endeavor to incorporate environmental quality into their mission and goals, the potential for green collar jobs over the next decade could be profound. And if the federal government succeeds in combining the benefits of renewable energy efforts with the national employment sector, we could see green collar jobs exploding into a billion-dollar industry in no time at all.