Are Green Jobs “Better” Jobs?

Angie - Test Knowles, | January-27-12

Green Jobs Infographic

This is a huge debate about green careers second only to the controversy of whether the implementation of environmental policies leads to net job growth.

On one side of the spectrum, a recent study published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives suggests that jobs in emerging green industries do not necessarily guarantee an improvement over the status quo.

In a media release about the report, “new production in renewable industries such as wind and solar is more labour-intensive than in existing electricity production. But these jobs tend to be poorly paid and temporary, mainly because electricity generation is shifting to the private sector, rather than occurring in public utilities.” 

Yet from a contrasting perspective, other research has found that environment-related work offers several advantages over employment in traditional sectors, including strong future growth prospects and higher median salaries
Click on the green jobs infographic from Jobvine Jobs for an interesting summary of this viewpoint.
This infographic presents available research on green jobs and green growth policies in the US, with several notable parallels to the environmental employment situation in Canada.
Similar to the Green Biz Stats at the top of the infographic, there’s evidence that environmental careers have proliferated significantly throughout the Canadian economy, both through the creation of new jobs, as well as through the adaptation and reallocation of existing employment. More details on three major indicators of this growth can be seen in the posting, Are Green Jobs Growing?.
The remarkable and continued expansion of environmental careers is one crucial factor in favour of green jobs representing “better” jobs. Another consideration is the higher than average rate of engagement among environmental employees. Compared to 64% of the general Canadian workforce, 78% of environmental workers were engaged in ECO Canada’s latest report.
What I find particularly surprising is that the high level of engagement and strong emotional motivation of Canadian environmental professionals exists despite concerns with remuneration, job security and available benefits programs
Perhaps another element that makes green jobs “better” jobs involves more than financial benefits.
When asked about their reasons for choosing an environmental career in the Characteristics of Environmental Practitioners report, 87% of practitioners expressed a desire to improve the environment, 46% were attracted to the variety of jobs and duties, and 46% also liked the idea of working outdoors.

Do green jobs represent “better” jobs? What do you believe attracts professionals to the environmental sector?