A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak on a panel at EPIC in Vancouver on low-carbon careers. Then last week had a followup interview on the topic of green jobs and the green economy.
Both have prompted me to think more about what we really mean by “green jobs”. The first thing that comes to mind for most people is doing solar panel installations or planting green roofs. However, where I have seen the most potential is the embedding of green and sustainable practices into core business process of traditional companies. To truly have a green economy, ALL jobs must be green jobs.
The way I like to look at this is through the value chain approach. If you look at a typical manufacturer, there are raw materials coming in, work is performed to turn into a product, the product goes out the door to distributors and is sold to the end customers. In a Green Economy, every step in that chain has the opportunity for a green job. Whether this is purchasing a sustainable source of raw materials, ensuring that there are no toxic chemicals in the production process, optimizing the supply chain to reduce energy and CO2 emissions, and managing product recycling, there are many options for green jobs.
The other opportunity of course is for companies that support all of these functions. Providers of supply chain management software, logistics companies and even accounting firms can be well placed to take a place in the green economy.
While we should certainly be training more people to work in brand-new jobs, we must also be working with established educational and professional organizations to put green thinking into the existing workforce. The David Suzuki @ Work program is a step towards this taking an employee engagement tack but more is needed to support delivery of green and sustainable thinking into core business practices.
Has anyone seen examples of this being done well?