Saturday, July 16, 2011

California Green Jobs Report

I read more about the California Workforce Education and Training Needs Assessment for Energy Efficiency, Distributed Generation, and Demand Response.

This is really a line of research I am interested in pursuing. Here are some things that stuck out to me.

They talked about the need for "high-road agreements," which I think means including higher standards in contracts for businesses. The report also stresses the importance of enforcing standards and having certifications for labor force training.

The study found that incorporating environmentally friendly practices and standards into traditional training programs was more important than brand new training programs for new specialized green jobs. That is, greening traditional trades is more effective than anticipating narrow specialized emerging occupations. Actually, this is exciting because this has been my attitude towards green jobs, although it was just based on a hunch. The report's conclusion is more about the technicalities of job creation and training, but the message I was trying to send when I did the Big Picture Panel Lecture was that students should try to work on sustainability within whatever field they chose, not feel like they needed to change careers to work on environmental sustainability. While I think it makes sense to try to get a Sustainability minor or certificate, it would not make sense to make a Sustainability major. At least, not for most people.

I also thought of two other ideas while reading this report. One is that maybe businesses that work on contracts should have online rating sites like Yelp, especially government contractors. Consumer product ratings are now ubiquitous, but taxpayers regularly pay companies that they don't know much about. On the other hand, it may be that this information is readily available, and people are just not that interested.

The other idea is that students in high school and also college should have more information available about possible career choices so they can make better decisions. It seems like to me that most people make career decisions based on their interests, which is good, but I think it would be better if there was at least a little bit of data or infographics. Otherwise, the bit of data that students use are from TV shows and celebrities. It is becoming clear that the middle class has benefited the last three decades from cheap goods in China, and so it has not been particularly difficult to maintain a pretty good standard of living in the United States even if you did not make savvy career choices. It simply has not been that competitive. I think that the labor market is going to get more and more competitive now in the United States, and that more data for students are in order, not just more SAT prep.

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