Once upon a time, “doing your bit for the environment” was an impassioned hobby at best. Now, it’s a job – within the biggest boom industry of the next decade. The American Solar Energy Society estimates that 1 in 4 Americans will be working in green-collar jobs by 2030. (Future President, take note).
So, what are going to be the sustainable occupations of the new economy? Here are 10 predictions for green-collar jobs that will grow and grow:
Bicycle / Scooter Technicians. Bicycles are elegant and efficient ways to get around, and enormously reliable. They’re also a piece of cake to maintain in good working order. But bicycles are going to change. Electric bikes (such as Urban Mover’s range) are going to bridge the gap between gas-powered and human-powered, and fixing them is going to require a special blend of mechanic and electrician. Like motor mechanics, they’ll charge a not inconsiderable amount to get you back on the road – but with the money you’re saving by not using gas, you’ll be able to afford it!
Public/Private Alternative Energy Engineers. There are millions of dollars around the world awaiting to be saved by a switch to sustainable energy sources – and the technology to allow such a changeover is just round the corner (such as super-efficient solar energy). So there will be a lot of solar panels, wind turbines and ground-source heating to install – funded by local municipalities eager to invest in long-term energy savings, or private companies eager to secure our cash. It’ll be a massive undertaking – and a booming job market.
Emissions Managers. As companies shift to newer, greener ways of working, there will be a period of transition. It’s the job of the regional and federal government to encourage companies through this transition, either from in front (the carrot) or from behind with the stick – the threat of fines or prosecution. (Carrots work better, it’s official). Either way, companies will be held responsible for the (diminishing) level of their environmental impact – and they’ll need a special blend of scientist and public relations spokesperson to make sure they’re toeing the line.
Urban Replanners. To make the most of new green innovations, most of our cities need redesigning. Those acres of concrete soaking up heat, creating “heat islands” that force people to turn up the A/C. Those buildings in the way of naturally cooling, turbine-powering air-currents. Those profoundly unpedestrian areas that you can’t navigate without being inside a car. They can all go. And we also think that truly green city architecture should raise a sweat.
Urban Gardeners. The cities of the future will grow. It’s not science fiction – just the cheapest, most natural way of getting our cities to regulate themselves, and creating places our spirits can thrive in as well as our bodies. Grass-coated roofs bring building temperatures down. Trees scrub the air. People grow their own vertical gardens. To kick things off, we’ll need trained urban gardeners promoting the right way to do things. And wouldn’t it be great if they used to do the same thing in their spare time?
Recycling Specialists. As the public and private sectors of the recycling industry grow, it’s going to become more and more critical to be on the cutting edge of recycling techniques, whether to make the most of taxpayers’ money or keep profits on the up. Companies and job positions tailored to the recovery of specific materials (like Recovco, focussing on recovered aluminium) are going to crop up everywhere. Plastic specialists are going to have a field day.
Organic Farming Specialists. Their heads filled with a mixture of cutting-edge organic agricultural innovation and a thousand years of farming techniques that worked just fine before synthetic agrochemicals came along, students of organic farming are going to be heavily in demand. They’ll understand the dangers of taking shortcuts with the health of the land, and they’ll know how to keep production and food quality sky-high.
Environment Refuse Processors. Restoring the sustainable potential of our hard-pressed planet is going to involve the largest clean-up job in history. We’re going to have to scour the sea bed for nurdles and skim the waves for plastic bottles. Land fills (packed full of recyclable materials) will be reprocessed and rendered less toxic. Our mountains of trash aren’t just hazardous, they’re an energy goldmine – and these people will be our miners.
High School Ecologists. Alongside Math, Chemistry and Biology, it’d be nice if Ecology had a place on the school curriculum within our lifetimes. It’d be a subject grounded in a pragmatic, useful concern with our place in the natural world, teaching the Why behind all branches of green-collar work. And all taught without even a hint of a kaftan or a floral print shirt.
And lastly, how are members of the current workforce (blue-collar, white-collar and so on) going to adapt to the new job opportunities available to them? By seeing an Environmental Career Consultant, of course!