Economic recovery is evading our most struggling populations with African-American and Latino unemployment still nearly twice the national average. But as we celebrate Earth Day, now is a fitting time to highlight how the emerging green sector can bridge our communities to economic opportunity.
Green jobs, which are jobs that help improve the environment and lessen the destructive impact that we have on our planet, are steadily on the rise. Today, nearly 3 million people are employed in the green sector with jobs ranging from the manual (manufacturing and construction) to managerial (research, design, planning and development).
Unbeknown to most, green jobs are located in many of our communities. Urban centers account for 64 percent of all green jobs and they 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.” For instance, green economy workers’ wages are 13 percent higher than average median wages. Green economy workers are also more likely to report greater career mobility and advancement.
And for those who may be concerned about lacking the right skills to qualify for a green job, don’t be. 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, including a few listed below:
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, CareerOneStop’s Green Careers section provides an outline of green careers in today’s changing workplaces. The site also offers a job database to search for green jobs nationwide.
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.
The Small Business Administration 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.
So maybe its time you pursue that green job or green business! Opportunity may be closer than you think!
Dedrick Muhammad is the senior director of the NAACP Economic Programs. To learn more about preventing foreclosure and personal finance, check out the NAACP Financial Freedom Center Facebook Page or on Twitter @naacpecon.
(Photo: Todd Warnock/Getty Images)