Bright Green Survey Results: Jobseekers Willing, Waiting, Wondering

June 18, 2009 at 5:07 pm 4 comments

Carolyn ThumbnailPenned by Carolyn

We recently surveyed 430 jobseekers who are interested in moving into the green sector. A couple of the statistics from our results stand out:

  • 50% of respondents are currently unemployed
  • 61% have a Master’s or PhD
  • 40% have an annual income higher than $80k; 24% have an annual income higher than $101k
  • 83% have previous experience or some training/experience that would be relevant to a green company
  • 69% say one of the strongest barriers to getting into the green sector is the lack of available jobs
  • 41% say lack of proper training is a barrier to entry

With all the talk about green collar workers (blue collar jobs in the green economy) and the stimulus money that has been allocated to green workforce development, little attention has been paid to the demographic in this survey: highly-qualified, well-educated people that are willing and ready to move into the green sector.

So what’s the hold up? What are the challenges they’re facing as they try to channel their skills and background towards the green sector? Beyond the 69% who say there just aren’t enough green jobs (because, realistically, there aren’t enough of any kind of job right now, with unemployment rates at over 9% nationally), 41% of our respondents said they don’t have the proper training and 33% said they just don’t know where to look.

What this illuminates is a basic need for training programs and clear direction for jobseekers on how and where to find green jobs. In fact, this only reinforces our own anecdotal understanding of the state of affairs — people come to us every day just wondering how they can get into a sector that’s seeming daily more and more like a mirage. Of late, there’s more frustration in their voices, and people are wondering if all these green jobs evangelists are really just snakeoil salesmen.

But after two years in this space, we remain confident that the jobs are not an illusion — if they were, we’d pack up shop and head elsewhere rather than leading people on. The immense sense of hope and optimism hung upon green jobs was multiplied exponentially by the state of the economy and soaring unemployment rates. Yes, the sector is still growing even despite the economy (confirmed by a recent Pew report) and green companies are hiring, but not at a rate that can keep pace with the demand created from hundreds of thousands of people that have suddenly flooded into the sector.

The take-aways? Our same old line: there might not be a green job for you right now, but in 6 months or a year, when the dust settles from the economic collapse, there will be. The stepping stone in between, and how you’ll succeed in separating yourself from the crowd when that time comes, is training and preparation.

We’re not saying you’re not willing — over 30% of respondents said they’d take a week for training in greenhouse gas accounting or energy audits, and another 30% said they’d take a month. Most were ready to put up somewhere between $100-$1000 for the training.

Bright Green Talent and some of our partners are working on creating and facilitating training to help you get on the right path. In the meantime, there are lots of great resources to help you learn and network as we all ride out the storm. Hang in there — opportunity and a clean, prosperous future are waiting on the other side.


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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. BenParis  |  June 19, 2009 at 8:57 am

    I want to thank Carolyn for her note above, because it’s the first time I can read such an analysis on a website dedicated to green jobs. I definitely fall into the category of unemployed people willing to make it into the renewable energy space, but my experience with sales and energy was not enough to land a job where I wanted.

    So, yes Carolyn is right, there is not really appropriate training program, or re-tooling program, in place for people like me. I understand that if you are an engineer or a biologist, you might be in high demand right now, compared to business people, but with the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors growing, new openings will appear.

    Maybe, BGT can help jos seekers like me, willing to go back school in order to acquire the appropriate skill set, by facilitating their search for already existing very good programs, like the MBA one at Presidio.



  • 2. Royce Fullerton  |  June 19, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    The results of this survey are a little bit disheartening to see. It is very apparent that there are few jobs for people with postgraduate education (me) in the green industry right now. I hope to gain experience and training in desired fields if a job is not immediately available and would welcome any information on training that is going to be marketable and not just an easy buck for those doing the training.

    This was a great survey, would be interesting to revisit it in 6 months after you predict the dust will settle.

  • 3. John E  |  June 29, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    The big problem is simply the shortage of jobs, and this is likely to persist for at least another year, as Great Depression 2.0 grinds on. Employers are reluctant to hire “overqualified” candidates, because they expect us to jump for the first higher-salary position which comes along. I am also convinced that age discrimination is hitting those of us who are willing to retrain for re-entry positions, even though the average retirement age is likely to keep increasing steadily.

  • 4. juliekinnear  |  June 30, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Interesting numbers. Pity we can’t employ all the well educated people in green sector


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