As our region shifts towards building a future that is more sustainable, green industries are growing – and along with them, the demand for green jobs.

To meet California’s climate goals in 2030 and 2045, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst estimate that the state will need to invest in a projected 1 million green jobs.

How do we prepare our local workforce to meet the needs of tomorrow?

We can begin with education and workforce training programs to upskill San Diegans, including a growing population of young adults who have long been excluded from economic opportunities.

According to the San Diego Workforce Partnership, San Diego County is home to 38,000 opportunity youth, or San Diegans between the ages of 16 and 24 who are disconnected from education and/or employment advancement.

Connecting opportunity youth to career, development and support services can help close the skills gap and build a more inclusive, resilient economy to meet the growing need for green job workers.

Defining Green Jobs and Their Role in Sustainability

Urban Corps

A green job is an occupation where workers are employed to help create a sustainable future.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines green jobs as jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources. Green jobs also include workers’ duties that make their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.

These jobs can include anything from renewable energy engineers and architects to organic farmers and urban planners.

Green jobs are important because they provide an opportunity for workers to help build a more sustainable economy. They also provide training and career opportunities for young adults.

Green jobs:

  • Provide a pathway to stable careers and good wages;
  • Reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and help fight climate change;
  • Improve air quality and public health;
  • Create local jobs and build community resilience.

Currently, five of the most common jobs in the green workforce are:

  1. Solar energy installer: As solar energy becomes more popular, the need for qualified installers will continue to grow.
  2. Wind turbine technician: With the increasing popularity of wind power, there is a growing demand for technicians who can install and maintain wind turbines.
  3. Environmental scientist: The demand for environmental scientists is expected to grow by 16% in the next decade.
  4. Recycling coordinator: The recycling industry is growing rapidly, and coordinators who have experience in this field are in high demand.
  5. Green building inspector: As more people become interested in sustainable architecture, the need for qualified building inspectors will continue to grow.

Benefits of Working in the Green Economy

There are many benefits to having a career in the green economy.

For one, jobs in this field are often very well-paying. Additionally, they tend to be stable and secure, as the demand for green jobs is only expected to grow in the coming years.

Another benefit of working in the green economy is that you will be doing your part to help protect the environment. As the world becomes increasingly aware of the need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and combat climate change, jobs in the field of renewable energy and sustainability will become more and more important.

Also, careers in the green economy can be very rewarding, both personally and professionally. Knowing that you are working to make a difference in the world can be a great source of satisfaction

Finally, green jobs often offer opportunities for creativity and innovation, as well as the chance to work with cutting-edge technology.

Connecting San Diego’s Opportunity Youth to Green Jobs

In April, San Diego Foundation (SDF) in partnership with the County of San Diego granted $180,000 to local nonprofits to develop jobs and other programs to expose opportunity youth to careers in green industries.

One of seven nonprofit grant recipients, Urban Corps of San Diego County gives young adults second chances, by helping them upskill, earn their diplomas and receive paid work experience, while also enhancing the San Diego community.

Urban Corps video

Urban Corps is using grant dollars to recruit opportunity youth to its dual work-learning programs in Vista, Escondido and Chula Vista and prepare these Corpsmembers for employment in green workforce careers.

“This funding goes directly to Corpsmembers to give them more job training and work experience so we can place them in green jobs in San Diego County once they graduate from our high school,” shared Urban Corps CEO Kyle Kennedy.

Urbans Corps is just one example of how SDF’s Green Jobs efforts are aiming to create equitable job opportunities in our growing, green economy.

By training young people for green jobs, we can ensure that our workforce is ready to meet the challenges of the future. With the right training and support, every San Diegan has a chance to secure a career in this growing field.

Learn more about SDF’s Green Jobs work today.