18 March 2010

Why the State is key to a real green jobs market

By: Kaavya Nag

The pre and aftermath of Copenhagen has undoubtedly been the heightening of interest in the key words: green jobs (among others of course). However, the excitement and buzz around the notion of a low-carbon job, runs ahead of the actual creation of a successful 'green job' market.

Success is relative, but a real green job market would be one that fuels the clean energy economy. And for that, we need a pre-planned change in the policy climate. One that fuels a clean energy economy and takes green jobs along with that growth curve.

We don't need targets just for the National Solar Mission, we need a bigger vision. We need a thought-space in India's national climate policy, on how to use this opportunity to create green jobs (not just jobs). We need the people deciding national policies to pen down the pathways by which the country will get green jobs fuel clean growth, and for clean growth fuel green jobs. That will be the real game-changer.

If not, it is likely that a green job will remain a 'green MBA', a LEEDs certified green building consultant, and a carbon analyst. And clearly, only some buildings will be green, not all. In addition, the words 'green job' will continue to give the impression that such work automatically brings you below-par a normal job vis-a-vis the pay scale or career prospect path, possibly because you tend to associate the word green with non-profit.

If we want green jobs to deliver to their true potential, an electrician in a retrofit company, a public transport employee and an engineer in a wind energy company won't be the only ones holding a green job. Even the plain old investment banker, librarian and local salesman should fit the bill. 

While the librarian and salesman are currently idealistic green jobbers, they are not unreachable Utopian goals.We can get to Stage I of green jobbing the country by getting the State to create demand for green jobbers, and focus on capacity building though green skill training. Focus on the industries and development that can scale-up green jobs. A good start would be the energy efficiency, renewable energy and agriculture sectors. Green skill training does not create a 'green certified' mechanic, rather it incorporates additional new technology and methods training into existing curricula.

To get to Stage II, we need policy reforms that will create the regulatory environment and give the impetus for low-carbon growth. Including mandatory industry standards in product supply chains and life cycles, operations and maintenance. That is what will move green jobs into the 'open sea' of competition, and make many more jobs green than they currently are.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Kaavya - I think the green job market has a potential to be something for everyone and not limited to certain sectors. I think the small time job seekers /workers will gain.
    Am trying to get RWH done in my apartment as this is now mandatory and the deadline is May 31. But the RWH co has no time and there is a shortage of plumbers who understand this technology ..so there you go - While this is a proactive step by the Govt of Karnataka to mandate this, the planning is incomplete - there are simply not enough experts around -huge opportunity then for local entrepreneurs, plumbers, and vocational training