Green jobs, also commonly referred to as green-collar jobs, are any jobs that are part of a sector seen as catering to environmental concerns. As nations start shifting toward more aggressive environmental policies, including increased oversight and shifting of funds into infrastructure, green jobs are being created at a rapid rate. Although the term green jobs is not well defined, there are some basic principles that seem to be common to them. It should be noted, however, that as the term has become an important part of a company receiving acceptance as being environmentally conscious, it has begun to be used in many situations where historically it would have been inappropriate.
Some of the largest economic growth sectors create green jobs that help support sustainable energy infrastructure. For example, as nations begin to pursue alternatives to fossil fuels, they require massive infrastructure for this alternative energy generation. Wind turbine factories, solar panel factories, fuel cell production, installation services, and a wide range of other businesses have seen incredible growth since the beginning of the 21st century, creating many new green jobs. Between 1998 and 2007, a Pew Research study found that these jobs increased roughly 9.1% in the United States, as opposed to the global average of 3.7%.
These sorts of production and installation level green jobs, which would traditionally be part of the blue-collar designation, are often referred to as green-collar jobs. In the United States, 2008 Presidential Election this class of job was spoken of frequently, and it is widely seen as crucial in helping to mitigate the loss of jobs in the United States as a result of a shifting away from industry. Proponents of environment-related jobs point to the green-collar segment as a possible way for the United States to enter a new age of prosperity, while simultaneously establishing the country in a new global leadership role.
Outside of the green-collar sector, there are many green jobs available at the consulting level. As businesses ranging from giant corporations to small mom-and-pops struggle to make the transition to more sustainable practices, the demand for environmental consultants has grown exponentially. Specialists in various environmental standards, as well as experts in marketing a new green brand, are widely sought after. Although many people who take on these types of jobs have degrees in environmental disciplines, many others bring experience with traditional business models to help shape the future of green business.
In addition to being related to environmental sustainability, many people further define green jobs as those which include some level of social responsibility. These people hold that sustainability goes beyond environmental sustainability, and means job sustainability as well. Under this definition green-sector jobs must include not only environmental care, but also livable wages, the potential for upward mobility in a career, and some degree of job security. This definition reflects the more holistic approach that the green movement has taken on, and recognizes that without long-term job sustainability the environmental movement itself will not be unsustainable.