Admittedly, we aren’t alone in being interested in the topic of clean-tech jobs.
U.S. President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao have both made clean-tech development and deployment a cornerstone of their leadership, targeting the creation of millions of new clean-tech jobs in the process. Brazil, the European Union, India, Japan, and other nations are also aggressively pursuing clean-tech job creation – investing dollars and human capital and implementing supportive policies. And the clean-technology sector is now one of the largest recipients of venture capital (VC) dollars – alongside biotech, software, and medical devices – with clean energy alone raking in $3.35 billion in the U.S. in 2008, according to New Energy Finance. Globally, VC and private equity totaled $13.5 billion in clean-energy investments last year.
Private investments, while declining in 2009 and certainly under pressure in the current economic climate, are creating jobs among a host of startups such as smart grid networking company Silver Spring Networks in California; high efficiency window and green building materials manufacturer Serious Materials, with plants in California and around the U.S.; and thin-film solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturer Odersun in Germany. TV stations, newspapers, and magazines across the globe are focused on the emerging phenomenon, with near daily coverage. And dozens of websites and social media outlets are now dedicated to the clean-tech jobs market, including our own jobs board, Clean Edge Jobs.
The unprecedented level of interest and activity in clean-tech jobs is considerable, but there’s a reason for it. Many believe we are just at the beginning of the clean-tech jobs creation era, with clean tech offering the greatest opportunity for wealth and job creation (and global economic competitiveness) since the advent of the computer and the Internet.
In the following pages we highlight five major trends that we see reshaping the clean-tech jobs landscape. These include how conservation and efficiency are creating tens of thousands of new jobs and leading the clean-tech pack; how utilities facing an aging workforce are turning to a new stable of workers trained in clean tech and the smart grid; and how new educational programs are opening up clean-tech career paths. We then look at a number of emerging public financing models, such as Victory Bonds and the Green Bank, that could help fuel the next wave of innovation and job growth in clean tech.
Finally, at the end of the report, we provide an online resource guide for clean-tech job seekers and employers alike – with references to clean-tech books, reports, web sites, jobs boards, job fairs, networking organizations, educational programs from trade schools to MBAs, and more. We hope that our report will be a useful annual guide to job seekers, employers, and investors as the transition to a clean-tech economy moves forward.