By Dedrick Muhammad, Sr. — Economic recovery is evading our most struggling populations with African American and Latino unemployment still nearly twice the national average. But, with the recent anniversary of Earth Day, now is a fitting time to highlight how the emerging green sector can bridge our communities to economic opportunity.
Green jobs help improve the environment and lessen the destructive impact that we have on our planet, and are steadily on the rise. Nearly 3 million people are employed in the green sector ranging from manufacturing and construction to research, design, planning and development.
Green jobs are located in many of our communities, and urban centers account for 64 percent of all green jobs, and are highly concentrated in the West and Southern regions of the U.S. The vast amount of opportunities in the green sector explains the popular phrase, “green jobs equals good jobs.” Green economy workers’ wages are 13 percent higher than average median wages; and green economy workers are more likely to report greater career mobility and advancement.
For those who want the right skills to qualify for a green job, training opportunities are endless with hundreds of programs available that provide green certifications and licenses.
Budding entrepreneurs should also consider starting a green business. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the sustainability of our environment. In one study, near half of the respondents wanted to see finance companies provide monetary or investment incentives to businesses that are creating new clean energy technologies or promoting innovative environmental policies and practices. The study highlights a growing trend of consumers employing more social responsibility when deciding where and how they spend their money.
So, if you never thought about securing a green job and/or starting a green business, now is the time. There are a variety of resources available to assist you in a green career, green training, or a green business.
Career One Stop (www.careeronestop.org) is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, and it’s Green Careers section provides an outline of green careers in today’s changing workplaces, and offers a job database to search for green jobs nationwide.
Green Programs, Certificates, & Workforce Development Training: The Advanced Technology and Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC) created a database to help you identify listings of environmental and energy technology programs in the nation’s two-year colleges, high schools, and workforce training organizations at http://ateec.org.
The Small Business Administration (sba.gov) provides numerous resources for entrepreneurs interested in starting a green business. Resources range from how to find your niche in the green economy to how to become certified and differentiate your product or service as environmentally sound.
(Dedrick Muhammad, Sr. is the Director of the NAACP Economic Department. The complete column was originally published on BET.com)