Growing Quality Green Jobs
Driving Economic Advancement in the Green Economy
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Table of Contents
About the Report
Combating climate change and the ripple effects of its impact is one of the major imperatives of our time. A truly just transition to a green economy requires solutions that not only limit the root causes of our warming planet but also lead to accessible, equitable, and quality jobs for a sustainable future.
The Green Transformation Cycle, a new data-driven framework developed as a part of the CREST Initiative by Jobs for the Future (JFF), in partnership with the Burning Glass Institute (BGI), with support from Ares Charitable Foundation, advances our nation’s progress to a green economy by prioritizing environmental sustainability as well as equitable economic advancement.
Our approach—including an analysis of nearly 200 million online job postings—demonstrates that when the integration of current green skills into various occupations is considered, green jobs are more prevalent than commonly thought. This report leverages the Green Transformation Cycle to illustrate the economic transformation currently underway, and to better shape workforce training programs, employer talent pipelines, and emerging legislation to support the urgency of a just transition to a green economy.
- A just transition will require removing the limitations around how we define and categorize green jobs and the transferable skills needed to build a climate-resilient future and workforce.
- All jobs have the potential to become quality green jobs through the intentional integration of green skills, knowledge, and job-quality standards.
- The future of green jobs presents an opportunity to disrupt traditional methods of analysis to focus on roles that are more accessible to low-income communities and people of color, who are vastly underrepresented in the green economy.
Green Skills and Why They Matter
A just transition to a green economy—one that embodies reduced environmental impact and sustainable development—requires stronger, evidence-based criteria to define green jobs and to design and assess effective policy solutions to support their advancement over the long term. A new, more expansive way of thinking about green jobs must incorporate the broader understanding of green skills described above, as well as measures of job quality and access.
Our research uncovered three levels of green skill integration: additive, blended, and job-changing.
- Jobs at the additive level gain a small subset of new green skills within a broader set of responsibilities but maintain traditional overall roles and functions.
- Jobs at the blended level adopt broader sets of new green functions within existing roles and thus start to evolve.
- At the job-changing level, roles undergo a significant shift in skill sets; roles and functions are completely changed due to their full integration of green skills.
Today, an even greater number of jobs, spanning many industries, have undergone—or are likely to undergo—what we refer to as a green transformation. In these jobs, green skills are emerging and shaping roles and responsibilities across a range of jobs and industries as our economy continues to become more climate friendly.
The Green Transformation Cycle
For this report, JFF and BGI developed a data analysis framework called the Green Transformation Cycle. The framework was designed by applying concepts of product lifecycle theory to the green economic transformation that is underway.
We envision several categories of green skill adoption—seed, scale, established, and at risk—to show the extent to which green skills are in use within jobs, and the type of skill integration in play. Our framework can also be applied to jobs to present opportunities for intervention and identify those that are leading the green jobs transformation.
A truly just transition will not happen on its own.
Leaders and stakeholders representing workforce systems, education and training pathways, policymaking, community development, and more must prioritize economic activity that is interconnected with long-term environmental and social impacts. This will require removing the limitations around how we define and categorize green jobs and the transferable skills needed to build a climate-resilient future and workforce.
All jobs have the potential to become quality green jobs through the intentional integration of green skills, knowledge, and job-quality standards. Prioritizing job access and equity across communities will, in parallel, move us toward closing the racial and gender equity gaps that plague much of the current green movement. As our economy continues to respond to climate change, the Green Transformation Cycle framework can serve as a useful resource to prepare the U.S. workforce for a just transition to a strong, equitable, and accessible green economy for all.
About Climate-Resilient Employees for a Sustainable Tomorrow (CREST)
CREST is a five-year, $25 million career preparation and reskilling initiative of the Ares Charitable Foundation (the “Ares Foundation”) that aims to help close the gap between the demand for a skilled workforce for green jobs and the number of people prepared for these opportunities. Working with our partners and local communities, the Ares Foundation can deepen our impact, harness new opportunities, and help create a green, resilient future that benefits generations to come.