Raquel Pinderhughes, Ph.D.’s “GREEN COLLAR JOBS : An Analysis of the Capacity of Green Businesses to Provide High Quality Jobs for Men and Women with Barriers to Employment” is a really interesting case study assessing “…the potential of Bay Area green businesses to provide high quality green collar jobs to men and women with barriers to employment.”
Green collar jobs are blue collar jobs in green businesses – that is, manual labor jobs in businesses whose products and services directly improve environmental quality (Pinderhughes, 2006). Green collar jobs are located in large and small for-profit businesses, non-profit organizations, social enterprises, and public sector institutions. What unites these jobs is that all of them are associated with manual labor work that directly improves environmental quality.
Green collar jobs represent an important new category of work force opportunities because they are relatively high quality jobs, with relatively low barriers to entry, in sectors that are poised for dramatic growth. The combination of these three features means that cultivating green collar jobs for people with barriers to employment can be an effective strategy to provide low-income men and women with access to good jobs – jobs that provide workers with meaningful, community serving work, living wages, benefits, and advancement opportunities.
The study focuses on seven major questions around green collar jobs:
1. To what extent are green collar jobs good jobs?
2. To what extent are green collar jobs suitable for people with barriers to employment?
3. To what extent are people with barriers to employment interested in green collar jobs?
4. Are green business owners willing to hire workers with barriers to employment for green collar jobs?
5. To what extent are the green collar job business sectors growing?
6. What strategies are needed to grow the number of green collar jobs?
7. What strategies are needed to ensure that workers with barriers to employment can gain access to green collar jobs?
I was psyched to learn that Berkeley businesses provide so many green collar jobs (probably more so than other areas of the country). What is also cool to see reinforced by this study, is the idea that working to help the environment doesn’t require an advanced degree, and that green collar jobs can be a great means to providing low-income workers with jobs that will better the planet and community.