Living With Climate Change: Some 75% of surveyed Americans would jump at a ‘green’ job in solar, wind or EVs, which tend to pay 21% more
Roughly 75% of Americans like the idea of a well-paying, secure job in what some have billed the green Industrial Revolution — a stronger shift in coming months, years and decades to transition the country off traditional energy sources and into sustainable alternatives, a survey out Tuesday shows.
That might include wind, solar and nuclear energy, and an upgraded power grid, all areas that require engineers, software developers, solar-panel installers, HVAC technicians, finance professionals and more.
Respondents do want on-the-job training if they’re making a big jump to these new roles, as some are concerned existing skill sets might not easily transfer.
The survey was crafted by Mosaic, one of the top providers of financing home solar installations. They asked a cohort of more than 5,000 U.S. adults of all ages, geographic locations, genders, income levels and political affiliations about job interest in alternative energy and related fields. Three-fourths of respondents said they would consider a job in clean energy, citing interest in fields like solar, electric vehicles
sustainable home improvements and geothermal energy.
“The clean energy revolution involves an incredibly diverse workforce. It impacts everyone from the people who manufacture, distribute and install sustainable home solutions to those who specialize in financing, software, technology and customer service,” said Billy Parish, founder and CEO of Mosaic.
“We are seeing a wide range of applicants at Mosaic, from highly qualified engineering talent to trade industry veterans,” Parish said. And, he added, candidate interest in the efforts to slow climate change and global warming, alongside the traditional hallmarks of a good job, like salary and benefits, are increasingly mentioned.
Mosaic wanted a clearer picture of the willing workforce as labor markets remain tight, challenging companies from most sectors to find candidates, and after the U.S. government pledged the creation of millions of good paying jobs in clean energy as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), passed earlier this year.
A separate analysis found that the more than 100 climate, energy and environmental investments in the 2022 IRA will create more than 9 million jobs over the next decade. That’s an average of nearly 1 million jobs each year. This analysis was commissioned by environmental group the BlueGreen Alliance from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The IRA, a broad spending bill that featured the most climate-specific legislation in U.S. history, was signed into law earlier this year after President Biden and congressional Democrats pared back earlier calls for even greater spending. Republicans bristled at the spending total, and generally said they want to see the private sector lead when its comes to the energy transition. The bill features tax credits and other incentives for more energy-efficient buildings, homes and manufacturering processes. It also revives conditional tax incentives for electric vehicles
The BlueGreen Alliance findings predict that more than 6 million jobs will be created over the next 10 years because of the IRA’s grants, loans and tax credits and nearly 3 million jobs stimulated by the new loan guarantee authority forthe U.S. Department of Energy. And, the group said, the bill should help sustain the millions of existing jobs in the “clean-energy” economy.
Additional research has show that while energy-state lawmakers tend to grouse about high-paying jobs in the oil and gas
industry, as well as oil and gas tax revenue, being lost to solar and wind power, most alternative-energy jobs, which have tripled U.S.-wide in just two decades, are concentrated in the states where the traditional energy sector long employed residents and juiced the local economy.
“ Green jobs tend to be created in occupations that pay about 21% more than the average U.S. salary.”
Those are the findings issued earlier this year from E. Mark Curtis, an economics professor at Wake Forest University, and Ioana Marinescu, who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice. Their report was shared by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
“Overall, our results suggest that the renewable energy boom will create high-paying job opportunities, especially for low-skilled workers and workers who live in areas with a high share of employment in the oil and gas industry,” Curtis and Marinescu wrote.
Green jobs tend to be created in occupations that pay about 21% more than the average U.S. salary, the researchers said.
The Mosaic survey also showed interest in the energy transition regardless of voting tendency, though those who identified as Democrat showed slightly more interest. Of the Republicans surveyed (1,179), 66% said they would consider taking a job in clean energy, while 85% of Democrats surveyed (2,015) said they would.
“ While many of the skills required for clean energy jobs are transferable from other industries, government offices and trade organizations have identified the need for additional education and training programs. ”
Mosaic is also curious whether or not the workforce feels prepared for clean energy jobs today. The survey results showed that approximately one-third of respondents believe their current education and experience well-position them for a clean energy job shift, while the other two-thirds believe they will require additional on-the-job training.
“While many of the skills required for clean energy jobs are transferable from other industries, government offices and trade organizations have identified the need for additional education and training programs,” added Parish. “Renewable energy
creates more jobs than the fossil fuel industry, and this sector will need to fill millions of jobs globally over the next decade.”
According to Parish, Mosaic represents two growth areas — fintech and greentech — and possible candidates might show a skill set that favors one or the other, or both.
Some 28% in the survey said they think it will be very competitive to land a clean energy job in the coming years; 36% think it will be somewhat competitive; and only 7% think it will be not competitive at all.
What’s more, job seekers, especially younger workers, have moved up climate change in their list of priorities.
According to the survey, 3 out of 4 respondents said that if they were offered two jobs for the same amount of money, and one of the jobs was for a company focused on combating climate change, they would be more inclined to work for the company with an eye on climate change.