Low-Skilled Workers’ Access to Quality Green Jobs

Martinson, K.
Stanczyk, A.
Eyster, L.
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
The Urban Institute
Publication Year
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This eight-page brief provides an overview of green occupations, including industries, positions and salary ranges. Although a few new occupations exist in green industries, many of the jobs require the same skills as non-green industries, especially in the low- and middle-skilled range. Growth is expected in predominately male dominated occupations (e.g., natural resources, construction, and maintenance), and adults must increase their skill levels to obtain the middle-skilled jobs with family sustaining wages. The authors include various strategies to increase awareness about green jobs, increase access to higher levels of training for low-skilled workers, reduce barriers, and provide incentives for low-income workers. These strategies include bridge programs, modular curricula, career paths, and partnerships between educators and employers. The brief includes several examples of programs targeting low-income, low-skilled participants; suggestions for advancing green occupations; and an extensive list of references.

What the experts say

This accessible brief provides a clear definition of “Green Jobs.” It also brings some reality to the discussion by noting that jobs in this area are growing; however, they constitute only a tiny fraction of the economy, and 75% of the jobs are high or middle skill level. These jobs require post-secondary education and training but do not require a four year degree. To prepare low-skilled individuals for green jobs will require a long-term strategy using career paths, extensive apprenticeship and certificate- level training, and partnerships between educators and employers. Additional strategies focus on curricular reforms that include bridge programs that connect remedial programs to higher levels of training.