The Future of Employment and the “Green” Revolution

There are many more jobs that protect the environment and sometimes go off the radar, such as those that improve industrial processes, reduce the level of waste, or improve the quality of building construction. Ultimately, there are green jobs in areas as diverse as engineering, science, masonry, manufacturing, or technology development.

For example, to make an electric car, someone needs to design it, someone else to build it, someone else to maintain it, someone else to repair it, and thus, there is a long production chain that needs specialized personnel.

“There will be more green jobs in the future, but they will require workers to develop new skills,” says Akanksha Khatri, head of the Agenda for Action on Nature at the World Economic Forum (WEF). They will be competitive jobs in the market, she adds, because they have become increasingly profitable and in many countries green companies receive subsidies from the State.

The organization projects that 395 million green jobs will be created between now and 2030 and that the sector will generate a turnover of close to US $ 10 trillion, provided that companies and governments continue to bet on this type of development.

Sectors with the highest demand
Which sectors currently concentrate the greatest demand for green jobs? Agroforestry and renewable energy, according to Khatri. And as the circular economy expands – which seeks to reduce, reuse and recycle – there will be new job opportunities there, says the specialist.

The same will happen in emerging economies that are developing infrastructure projects that, if they help mitigate the environmental impact, will require planners, engineers, architects, designers, contractors, bricklayers and all those involved in the production chain.

These 10 green jobs are in high demand in the international labor market:

  1. Director of sustainability: Is the person responsible for the environmental policies of a company.
  2. Constructor of sustainable buildings: It is an open job for engineers, architects, designers and other professionals linked to the sustainable construction of buildings.
  3. Environmental lawyer: Advises clients on issues related to air and water quality or waste. 4. Geoscientist: Studies the composition of soils and natural resources. They can work alongside environmental scientists.
  4. Environmental engineer: Advises governments and private companies on the best ways to minimize the environmental impact of their projects.
  5. Hydrologist: Studies the availability and quality of water, collects data and formulates plans to improve the resource.
  6. Environmental scientist: Works for government agencies, consulting firms or companies, using knowledge to make decisions that affect the environment, people or animals.
  7. Urban farmer: Utilizes or creates green spaces on vacant lots, backyards, or building roofs.
  8. Conservation scientist: Collects and analyzes data to help manage parks and forests and protect the environment, avoiding causing harm to native species, soils and water.
  9. Urban planner: Most urban planners work for governments. He is the person in charge of designing land use programs to create and expand communities.

As it is a very broad definition and with few comparable statistical data, international organizations are reluctant to choose the green jobs with the highest demand globally. However, some publications, such as National Geographic magazine, have made their own list of the fastest growing green jobs in the world.

They include jobs as an electric car engineer, recycler, water quality technician, environmental scientist, green building constructor, urban farmer, solar panel technician, wind energy and wave energy.

What green sectors have the greatest projection?
Although the green jobs with the highest demand depend on the characteristics of each country, the World Economic Forum has identified the areas where they project that more jobs of this type will be created worldwide.
Some of them are:
Sustainable agriculture-Sustainable fishing
Waste management
Renewable energy production
Construction of smart buildings that save energy
Clothing recycling
Reduction of water leaks through sensors
Mining extraction with techniques that have less environmental impact
Reuse of vehicle parts

What are the most requested green jobs?
In a study published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on green jobs with the highest employability rate between 2019 and 2029 are wind turbine technicians and photovoltaic solar installers.

– Wind turbine technicians: specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing these types of devices. They tend to work at great heights and are more informally known as the wind technicians. They train for this job by attending technical school or receiving job training, and the average annual salary is $ 52,910.

The BLS projects that this employment will grow 61% by 2029, leading the list of occupations -of all kinds- that will grow the most, due to the rapid increase in the generation of alternative energies, a trend that will also expand globally .

Photovoltaic solar installers: are in charge of installing, maintaining and repairing rooftop solar panels and other systems that convert light from the sun into energy. Due to the characteristics of the job, most work outdoors, although sometimes they must do work in attics or closed spaces to connect the panels to the electrical matrix.
The most common training is that they obtain a diploma after finishing high school in the so-called “vocational schools” that in Latin America are better known as technical schools. However, many receive training while doing the job, which takes about a year. The average annual salary is US $ 44,890 and the growth prospects for 2029 reach 51%, ranking third in the jobs that will have the highest employability, after nurses.

And which ones pay better?
Several jobs related to the monitoring and protection of natural resources pay salaries above the average, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). On the BLS list, the highest paid green job is atmospheric and space scientist, with an average salary of $ 94,110 a year; followed by an environmental engineer with US $ 87,620 and a hydrologist with US $ 79,370. Other high-demand occupations are environmental scientists, soil and plant scientists, and conservation scientists. The same is true for environmental engineering technicians and environmental science technicians.

However, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the strong growth of these jobs was paused or caused job losses, as has occurred in the other productive sectors, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Energy Association US Wind.

What happens in Latin America?
Specialists in green jobs for Latin America at the International Labor Organization (ILO), say that in the region there are at least five countries that stand out in the creation of green jobs. These are Mexico (with 56,000 jobs), Ecuador (with 44,000), Argentina (with 15,000), Costa Rica (with 3000), and Brazil with about 1,158,000 green jobs in various sectors, such as biofuels, solar energy, and bus reconversion.

Green jobs have grown more in the renewable energy sector because it is where investments have increased the most. Among them is solar energy (both that which produces electricity and that which produces hot water); wind, hydro, geothermal (which uses the heat that is on Earth) and biofuels (whose origin is in plants).

Renewable energy
One important thing that has helped the expansion of renewable energy in the world and in the region is that its cost is decreasing “The technologies used by renewable energies are cheaper than those that use fossil fuels,” experts say.

Employment generation has also grown in sectors such as sustainable agriculture and food production from plants, as well as forestry, construction and manufacturing.The transition to a net zero carbon economy could create 15 million new jobs in Latin America by 2030.

How can people prepare?
The ILO says that the ideal is for the person interested in sustainable development job to first choose what type of work they like and that within that work they seek a green specialization. Those who like the law can become an environmental lawyer, or those who prefer architecture can focus their career on green building.

The first step is to train. The second is to find out what kind of support there is in your respective country for green entrepreneurs. In Latin America, green jobs will continue to grow.
And globally, experts recommend that governments promote vocational schools, so that they are as competitive as traditional universities.

In a labor market that requires workers to continue training (what is known as lifelong learning), it is not enough to have a degree. The most valued by companies is constant training in the same work environment, adding new skills or developing existing ones.

Resonance Costa Rica

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