T&D World Magazine

Poll Finds Nation Needs to Get to Work on Green Jobs

Interest in green jobs may be starting to take root, although more must be done to make that interest really blossom. The Career College Association has released the results of a new commissioned survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive from March 9-11, 2010, finding that while more than 70 percent of American adults are familiar with the idea of green jobs, less than one-third (29 percent) are aware of the growing availability of this type of employment and only one percent have actually obtained or are considering this type of education for themselves.

Not surprisingly, the higher the educational attainment level of the respondent, the higher the percentage of those familiar with green jobs. Eighty-five percent of college graduates are familiar with green jobs, compared to only 60 percent for those with a high school degree or less. College graduates are almost twice as likely as those with a high school degree or less to know about the growing availability of green jobs (41 percent versus 22 percent).

“We believe that green jobs are truly the way of the future,” said CCA President Harris N. Miller. “Green jobs conserve energy and protect our environment. By doing so, they help solve problems from mass transit and urban sprawl to lower cost energy and more intelligent use of natural resources. This study shows, however, that public understanding of green jobs is not uniform, and that workers who might form the green jobs workforce of the future, particularly at the lower rungs of the education ladder, need to know more about practical steps they can take to prepare today.”

Although Americans may not see green jobs “springing up” around them, majorities believe that sufficient numbers of people at both the professional and technical level are entering the field. Fifty-eight percent of adults are at least somewhat confident there are a sufficient number of people at the professional level obtaining education in green jobs and 57 percent are at least somewhat confident there are a sufficient number of people at the technical level doing the same. Conversely, fewer than half (47 percent) strongly/somewhat agree that the lack of trained personnel explains why there are not more green jobs in the United States. At the same time, doubts remain. Nearly one-third of American adults (31 percent) indicate they are not sure whether there are a sufficient number of people at either the professional or the technical level who are obtaining education in green jobs.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes $600 million specifically targeted for green jobs training programs and billions of dollars overall for energy grid expansion and improvement, for renewable energy and energy efficiency and related projects. The CCA green jobs survey found nearly all American adults (94%) think people would be at least somewhat likely to consider pursuing green-related education if the federal government was to provide a financial incentive. Only about one in three (35 percent), however, believe that such an incentive would make people very or extremely likely to consider pursuing such an education.

While the green jobs themselves may take time to develop, Americans say they see “green” benefits associated with this type of employment. Seventy-two percent strongly/somewhat agree that the expansion of green jobs will help preserve a higher quality environment and 63 percent strongly/somewhat agree that more green jobs would have a positive outcome on energy costs. Sixty-one percent strongly/somewhat agree that the expansion of green jobs would have a positive outcome on the U.S. economy. Less than half of American adults (46 percent) strongly/somewhat agree that more green jobs will be at the expense of existing jobs. Roughly two-thirds (66 percent) indicate that a focus on green technology will ensure that innovations and developments do not come at the expense of the environment.

What does it mean to be green? While a majority (53 percent) of adults strongly/somewhat agree that use of the word “green” is just a fad, more than three-fourths (78 percent) strongly/somewhat agree that Americans will adopt more environmentally-friendly behaviors, such as recycling, weatherizing, or using energy efficient products, if there are more green programs, products and well-trained people designing, building, installing and operating them.

Americans express few differences of opinion in terms of the type of institution best suited to providing an education in green jobs. Three out of four adults strongly/somewhat agree that career colleges (75 percent) and community colleges (78 percent) are a good choice for obtaining education in green jobs. Nearly two-thirds (66 percent) say the same about four-year liberal arts and sciences institutions.

This study was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Career College Association from March 9-11, 2010, among 2,099 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on probability sample and therefore estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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