Green Jobs Pipeline for Women

By:Judith B. Taylor Issue: Collaborative Leadership Section: Community

Coming of Age

Most of us are familiar with the expression “it takes a village.” Certainly in a collaborative, contemporary sense, it takes a village to help a woman find a green job.

The New Energy Economy offers an exploding and broad array of new employment opportunities in Colorado. There will be millions of job openings over the next 20 years for people with specific training in the “green jobs” fields. Green jobs in energy efficiency, renewable energy, weatherization, waste diversion and other emerging sectors are growing rapidly across the state and represented the fastest growing job sector in Colorado in 2009.

The challenge, however, is the extent to which women are able to secure these new green jobs. A majority of new green jobs are in the fields of science, skilled trades (construction), and engineering. Although women represent close to one half of the workforce in the U.S., women hold fewer than 5% of the jobs in many of the clean energy professions.

The U.S. economic future is green. For the good of the economy, society and the natural environment, the country cannot afford to leave women behind. Women need to be encouraged to pursue green careers.

Facing the challenges related to women seeking green jobs, the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau awarded a contract in late 2009 to the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado. The “Green Jobs Pipeline for Women in Colorado” project was designed to increase awareness among Colorado women about the nature of green jobs—to determine where opportunities exist and to specify what skills and training are needed to secure employment.

A major effort took place to build a statewide network of organizations committed to promoting green job employment opportunities for women and initiating an outreach program that increases the chances that a woman will secure employment in the green economy. This statewide coalition of organizations was formed to identify and promote a set of services and resources that enable women to secure green jobs. The pipeline of resources ranges from raising awareness of green jobs, to exploration of careers, training, job procurement and retention.

The coalition set out to expand the awareness of workforce pipeline resources and services that support women in their search for training and employment opportunities.

“From interviews with coalition members, written assessments from 66 other organizations and other research, a comprehensive report of obstacles and best practices was compiled,“ said Janna Six, Education Program Director with the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado. “The first barrier is that women are often not aware of the opportunities in the green job sector and there is a basic education needed.”

One such green jobs opportunity in action is the expansion of the FasTracks Eagle P3 line and the community revitalization efforts along the development corridors. This RTD project comprises elements of design, construction, finance, operation and maintenance. Eagle P3 includes proposed lines connecting Denver International Airport with Union Station, the Gold Line light rail connecting Arvada and Wheat Ridge and part of the Northwest Rail line to Westminster.

Meredith Roach, Director of Career Development Programs at Mi Casa Resource Center, is one of the partners in the overall project for FasTracks Eagle P3 Line, whose main goal is providing diversity and skilled workers.

As for the training of the workers, Roach says that women with different backgrounds come into the program where new competencies are developed. It could be training around weatherization or electronics or construction related.

While the project is massive in scope, Roach says the supply of skilled workers exceeds demands in this economy. In fact, over a period of six years, 5,000 jobs are expected to be created and a great deal of community redevelopment will be needed. “The key is there is currently not enough demand around green jobs, “ Roach said. “We need to identify employers who are using green practices. We need to be strategic in what women are trained in. Training is needed for jobs that exist. Employable skills along with networking with employers are important components in the success of finding green jobs,” Roach said.

Numerous efforts are underway to assist job seekers to find and plug into the green jobs pipeline. Early research included the guide, Career for Colorado’s New Energy Economy. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) and the Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) are coordinating green jobs statewide through a position titled Green Job Collaborative (the Collaborative). The Department of Labor Women’s Bureau has established a series of Green Jobs for Women teleconferences. Additional resources can be found in the Best Practices Report from the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado’s Jobs Pipeline for Women Project. (www.sustainablecolorado.org).

Other efforts have been designed to motivate and empower Coloradans to take energy-saving steps, large and small. One such effort is RechargeColorado.com, which advances energy efficiency and renewable, clean energy resources across the state. The Colorado Workforce Centers offer free services to employers and job seekers alike.

The Green Jobs Pipeline for Women project offers hope and strategies for women seeking green jobs. In spite of the unique challenges facing women, the project provides concrete steps and resources to clarify the jobs path. To maximize the job opportunities, the Pipeline researched comprehensive best practices for providing services geared towards supporting women in the quest to obtain careers in the green jobs sector. And, the Green Jobs Pipeline for Women project continues to evolve and grow.

Originally at the Alliance, the Green Jobs Pipeline will now be housed at the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce. “It (the Women’s Chamber) is a place to facilitate the training to help women prepare for green job openings,” said Donna Evans, President of the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce. “Connecting people together is vital.”

Janna Six, Education Director at the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado is optimistic that the future of green jobs will continue to boom and that the opportunities for women will continue to grow. She sees the local Green Jobs Pipeline for Women Project as a model program for others. “Looking at the green jobs barriers for women in a holistic way across business, education, government and nonprofit sectors is key. It simply took a catalyst such as the Alliance, with support of the Women’s Bureau, to pull the group together,” said Six.

The Green Jobs Pipeline for Women Project is already successful from the connection and collaboration standpoint. Women now have numerous resources available to them in their quest to find employment in the green jobs economy. Judith Brissette Taylor is a journalist, speaker and speech writer. She has been a practitioner in the women's market for over twenty-five years as a writer, editor and publisher. She served for two years as president of the Women's Regional Publications of America. Contact Judy at jtaylor@leadingedgeadvisers.com.

Careers for Coloradans Guidebook

- A tool for anyone interested in learning more about careers in Colorado's New Energy Economy, the guidebook includes descriptions of dozens of different jobs in the energy efficiency, clean energy and climate solution sectors. (GEO and EDF) Careers for Colorado

Green Job Education and Training

- Find the schooling you need with this comprehensive list of Certifications, Community Colleges, Vocational, Training, Universities throughout Colorado. (GEO) http://rechargecolorado.com/index.php/resources_overview/colorado_green_jobs/green_job_resources

Other Training and Online Training

- American Renewable Energy Association (AREA) http://americanrenewableenergyassoc.com

- Career Readiness Certificate (CRC http://www.coworkforce.com/emp/crc/careerreadyfaqs.pdf

- Crestone Solar School http://www.crestonesolarschool.com

- Ecotech Institute http://www.ecotechinstitute.com

- Green Guardians' online training videos http://greenguardians.ning.com

- Habitat for Humanity- Women Build https://www.habitat.org/wb

- iCAST - Classroom and online courses available http://training.icastusa.org

-Mi Casa Resource Center http://www.micasaresourcecenter.org

- Solar Energy International http://www.solarenergy.org/womens-programs

- Take the first step to becoming a Journeyperson http://www.fresc.org/article.php?id=296

- Veteran's Green Jobs - Women Veterans working on conservation issues www.veteransgreenjobs.org

- Woodbine Ecology Center http://www.woodbinecenter.org

Job Search Websites

- Colorado Cleantech Industry Association http://www.jobtarget.com/home/index.cfm?site_id=9471 Colorado based organization

- Green Guardians http://greenguardians.ning.com/page/green-career-resources

- Green Jobs Outsourcing Brokers http://gjob.us.com Colorado based organization

- Greenjobs.com http://www.greenjobs.com/public/index.aspx

- iHire Environmental http://www.ihireenvironmental.com/Site_Map.asp?state=CO&type=jobs

- Jobs in Horticulture http://jobboard.hortjobs.com/JobSeeker/Jobs.aspx

- LOHAS http://www.lohas.comresources.html Colorado based organization

- Tree Hugger.com http://jobs.treehugger.com/?campaign=th_nav_jobs

- U.S. Green Building Council http://careercenter.usgbc.org/home/index.cfm?site_id=2643

Networking

- Women in Sustainable Energy (WISE) Speaker Series http://wise.findsmithgroups.com/signin.do

- Women of Wind Energy (WoWE) http://www.womenofwindenergy.org

- For the Colorado Chapter email: boulder-denver@usa.womenofwindenergy.org

- Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES) http://www.cres-energy.org

- Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce http://www.cwcc.org

- LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com (Many green, renewable energy, etc., groups to join)

Resource Articles

- Women’s Role in the Clean Energy Economy http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/05/women_clean_economy.html

- Networking Resources Women Pursuing Green Careers Should Know About http://greeneconomypost.com/women-history-month-networking-women-green-careers-1091.htm

- The Green Economy offers a chance for women to excel! http://greeneconomypost.com/green-economy%e2%80%93opportunity-women-1045.htm

- Small steps for women in a green economy http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/washington/news.aspx?id=127177

- Why the Most Productive Jobs of the Future Will Be Green Jobs http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/04/green_jobs_questions.html

- Alternate ideas for Green Jobs http://urbanhabitat.org/node/528

For more information or to contact the Green Jobs Pipeline for Women, please visit: www.sustainablecolorado.org/programs/greenjobswomen.php