Job Prospects After Obama’s $30 Billion Boost To The Energy Sector
President Barack Obama’s plans to increase the production of renewable energy to double the current levels by 2012 and one of his first acts has been to provide $30 billion in tax incentives to this industry. That was $10 billion more than had been anticipated. The move supports the optimism of the people who anticipate surging growth in the green jobs market.
Recent research by think tank and academic institutions shows that significant job increases in the green sector is expected. The reports provide helpful information for people interested in employment in a green job. Many of them offer detailed information of anticipated growth per sector and region, which is exactly what job seekers need.
A recent survey of the Academy for Educational Development (AED) advises green job seekers to consider a community college as their ‘dream school’.
The ideal jobseeker in the green workforce will have more than a high school diploma but less than a four year college degree.
“[The green jobs sector is the] greatest workforce development opportunity on the horizon for community colleges”, according to the survey, entitled “Going Green: The Vital Role of Community Colleges in Building a Sustainable Future and Green Workforce“.
AED’s advice to policy makers? Keep this level of skills in mind when decisions are made to combat the fledgling economy. In other words; it makes sense to send people back to college.
Another report, released by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) provides very detailed information about job opportunities in renewable energy. ASES paints various scenarios for the green jobs sectors. Its most optimistic scenario anticipates the number of jobs in the renewables sector will increase to 37 million by 2030, up from the 9 billion in 2007.
The authors of the report, who collaborated with economists at the Management Information Services, Inc (MISI), also gave a worst case scenario, dubbed the ‘business as usual’ scenario. This ‘base case’ still forecasts a rise in the green job sector of 16 million jobs – around half the number in the optimistic scenario. An intermediary scenario (not too positive and not too gloomy) predicts that 19.5 million jobs will be created, which will generate around $2,248 billion in revenue by 2030.
These numbers don’t mean a thing without insight into more specific job details. And that is what ASES provides down to the sector, including solar thermal, photovoltaic, biodiesel, and ethanol.
Most of the jobs that have been generated in the renewables sector thus far have been in the private sector. The businesses that emerged and that are successful are mostly in the solar thermal, solar photovoltaics, biofuels, and fuel cells sectors, ASES reports. Each of these sectors have achieved 25%+ annual revenue growth, something that is hardly visible in their stock prices but which is translated in their direct funding levels.
But the organization warns of risks if things don’t move fast.
“Every year’s delay by policy-makers (2009, 2010) has a highly disproportionate and negative impact on long range growth”, ASES predicts.
Competition from abroad won’t only come from Asia but Germany is also singled out as a threat to American companies in the renewable energy sector.
“Unless quick action is taken, the U.S. risks losing millions of green jobs to other nations that offer a more serious and sustained commitment to growing its green economy. Consider the impressive results of Germany as an instructive example”, ASUS warns.
Germany has a population of less than 25% of the US but the country is generating new jobs faster than the US. For the moment, more than half the states in the country do not have the funds yet to create jobs in the renewable energy sectors. Yet insiders expect that things will move fastest at the state level.
“Instead of having a top-down, federal, one-size-fits-all program, you have states experimenting with success and failure,” says Lewis Milford, the president of the Clean Energy States Alliance in Washington, D.C. “The states that are succeeding then can simply be copied in other states. And this happens very quickly, very readily. States are sharing this information in real time.”