In today’s Sydney Morning Herald, Ross Gittins poses the questions: what is a green job? and, why are we aiming to create them anyway? He makes the point that simply putting the focus on creating ‘green jobs’ could do little to meet the goal of a low-carbon economy.
He goes on to outline the conundrums surrounding defining what a green job might be:
If, for instance, a job maintaining a wind turbine is a green job, what about a job in the business that makes the turbines?
And if it’s green to manufacture steel turbines, what about the jobs of the people who mine the iron ore and coking coal needed to make the steel? But if it’s not green to be a miner, would it be better for us to import all the turbines we need so the sin of being non-green was on someone else’s head?
We tend to agree – there probably won’t ever be a suitable description of a green job. Here at Steplight our focus is on delivering quality educational outcomes to those we work with, so we’re not too caught up in defining ‘green jobs.’ The outcome we are aiming for is more informed people who are empowered and equipped to take action in reducing their ecological footprint. This can take many shapes: from helping a business complete a review of their energy consumption, delivering sustainability training to a community, or supporting the delivery of home sustainability assessment programs.
Two of our programs, which are a joint initiative of Steplight and Dusseldorp Skills Forum, go one step further by including practical experience and employment opportunities for young people. The Y Green program is a home sustainability project where young people are trained and then employed to conduct sustainability assessments in their local community (see video below). The igreen program, on the other hand, involves high school students completing accredited training and then going on to complete a number of home sustainability assessments in their local community as practical experience.
In reality, very few of the participants in these programs will actually end up being full-time home sustainability assessors. But that’s not the point. By completing a course in sustainability and then applying this knowledge in their community, participants in these programs gain valuable experience not just in sustainability, but also customer service, workplace safety, and so on. Whatever field they go on to work in we hope they’ll be making more informed decisions about the broader environmental impact of their every-day actions.
So maybe it’s time we put the focus on greener jobs and creating valuable green skills. Then everyone’s job can be a ‘green job.’
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