Join the Alliance tomorrow – Saturday, May 21, 1 pm – for “Green Energy and How it Can Lead to Economic Recovery” at United Vision for Idaho’s “Community Progressive” event at Beside Bardenay in Boise.

The results are in.  After a year spent surveying, interviewing, and researching a random selection of 5,000 Idaho businesses, the Department of Labor (DOL) recently released the conclusions from its Idaho Green Jobs Economy stimulus project (find the full report here).
The project began by first identifying occupations in Idaho that fall under the DOL’s “green job” definition:

A green job is one in which the work is essential to products or services in any of these core green areas:
  • Renewable Energy and Alternative Fuels
  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation
  • Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Conservation
  • Pollution and Waste Prevention, Reduction and Management and Environmental Cleanup
This information was then compiled to further identify, among other things, which industrial sectors host green jobs, what the salaries for those jobs are, and what type of training or experience is required to obtain those jobs.
What did it find?
The survey discovered 17,059 green jobs already in place in the state, making up 3% of the state’s total jobs and dipping into 19 of the 20 major industry categories in Idaho.  The survey also found that the median wage for green jobs was almost $3 an hour more than that for all other Idaho jobs and that training and experience were required for the majority of the green job positions. Unfortunately, green energy has the lowest percentage of Idaho green jobs out of the four categories listed above.
So what does all of this tell us?  
What the survey reveals is the beginning of something great.  It presents a preview of the full potential for a sustainable economy in Idaho—one in which renewable energy development means economic development, greenhouse gas reduction policies mean job creation, and incentives for energy conservation mean net fiscal savings.  This survey provides a platform to showcase the diverse, skilled workforce on which Idaho can continue to build toward a green economy, and it provides a look at effective training for Idaho workers and how to fund it.  Finally, it proves that a green job isn’t just installing solar panels. The opportunity for green job markets in a wide range of job sectors is promising and everyone should feel encouraged to pursue an eco-focused job, no matter what the field of work.
This is just the beginning.  As we develop both sustainable technologies for energy production and conservation, as well as methods for resource extraction and environmental cleanup, workers must be adequately trained, consumers must be educated and engaged, and we must all be able to recognize the need for meeting green objectives to improve the environment, the economy, and public health.  Most important, for green workers to meet green customers’ goals, green industries must grow.
The current “brown jobs” workforce has many of the skills needed for “green jobs.”  Electricians, construction workers, engineers, carpenters, educators, computer scientists, architects, the list goes on.
Support for green energy development, in the form of tax incentives, affordable pricing, utility incentives, political support, consumer education, and finance options, would spur growth in Idaho green energy jobs and help keep much of our newly trained green energy workforce here.  That would be a win for Idaho’s citizens, economy, and natural environment.
Here are some of the questions we’ll be considering tomorrow:
What do you think about the DOL’s definition of a “green job”?  What would your definition be, and how do you think the data would change if your definition were used instead?

Are having green jobs in your community important to you?  What benefits do green jobs bring to the community besides work and economic growth?

How do you gauge “progress” in society?  What values are most important to you, and what is your vision for a sustainable future?

We face a challenge to expand Idaho’s green energy job market in and empower our workforce to choose a profitable career that supports a sustainable energy future.  Can we do it?  Of course we can.  Will we do it?  Well…let’s get to work!
We hope to see you tomorrow – Saturday, May 21, 1 pm – for “Green Energy and How it Can Lead to Economic Recovery” at United Vision for Idaho’s “Community Progressive” event at Beside Bardenay in Boise.