Innovators and Entrepreneurs: The Architects of a Climate-Resilient Workforce
How visionary entrepreneurs and innovators are transforming the workforce to combat climate change.
"They are leading us toward a future where climate-resilient jobs are not just a necessity but a pathway to a sustainable and equitable world."
Changing the Narrative: Green Job Pathways with Innovative Solutions
In an era where climate change is an undeniable reality, our global community faces an unprecedented challenge. The impacts of climate change are far-reaching, affecting everything from weather patterns to food security and economic stability.
It is against this backdrop that entrepreneurs and innovators are stepping into the spotlight, reshaping our workforce, and spearheading the creation of climate-resilient jobs. They play a crucial role in preparing our society for a sustainable future. The New Landscape of Climate-Resilient Jobs Climate-resilient jobs extend beyond the traditional realm of green employment. While solar panel technicians and wind turbine manufacturers still play a vital role, the world is evolving rapidly. Now, virtually all professions are finding themselves intertwined with the need for green skills. This transformation challenges existing norms but also opens up unparalleled opportunities. The Urgent Need for Change With the looming threat of climate change, the U.S. economy stands on the precipice of transformation. This transformation not only holds the potential to mitigate the worst-case climate scenarios but also offers new avenues for economic growth and development. Entrepreneurs and innovators are taking the lead in identifying training programs and workforce development initiatives that can prepare individuals for promising roles in the green economy.
One particularly exciting aspect is that many of these climate-resilient jobs have the power to enhance economic opportunities for millions of workers without advanced degrees. A study found that, on average, green jobs pay 21% more than jobs in other industries. This premium is even higher for roles that do not require a college degree, making these jobs a pathway to economic advancement for a diverse range of individuals. Championing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) In the quest to prepare workers for the green economy, training providers and workforce development leaders have a unique opportunity to advance DEI in the labor market. Climate change disproportionately impacts Black, Latine, Indigenous communities, people from low-income backgrounds, and residents of rural areas. Sadly, these populations are underrepresented in the current green workforce.
Entrepreneurs and innovators are changing the narrative. By intentionally designing green job pathways with DEI goals in mind, they are helping to close equity gaps in U.S. society. These forward-thinking individuals are ensuring that climate-resilient jobs are not only about mitigating environmental risks but also about creating a more inclusive and equitable future for all. The Market Today The green economy is no longer a niche sector; it's a burgeoning market poised for rapid growth. Globally, green economic activity is projected to reach $10.3 trillion by 2050, accounting for 5.2% of global GDP. Public and private investments are driving this growth. Public Investment The U.S. government is taking proactive steps to bolster its role in clean tech. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 allocates $369 billion over the next decade to advance clean energy initiatives, including incentives for domestic electric vehicle production. This significant public investment is a testament to the government's commitment to sustainable economic growth. Private Investment Venture capitalists are increasingly viewing the green economy as an arena where they can generate both social impact and financial returns. The potential for widespread consumer adoption of cleaner technologies and the influx of public funds make startups in this space attractive investment opportunities. Clean tech investments are soaring, with venture capitalists projected to invest over $100 billion by the end of 2023. Trends to Watch While green job training programs have historically focused on technical entry-level roles, innovative entrepreneurs are expanding their horizons. They are creating comprehensive training programs for emerging green jobs that can offer higher wages and greater career prospects. These visionary leaders understand the need for a diverse array of roles in the green economy. Equity-Centric Approach Innovators are shaping pathways to quality jobs by emphasizing the importance of ownership and small businesses. They recognize that ownership is a path to wealth-building and actively recruit individuals trained for technical roles into their business incubator programs. Diversity in Green Management Green management roles are likely being filled by individuals with relevant postsecondary education, but innovators acknowledge the importance of diversifying talent pipelines. The future workforce will be more diverse, and businesses must adapt to this reality by finding ways to advance careers for underrepresented groups to avoid talent shortages. Balancing Scale and Depth Entrepreneurs and innovators face the challenge of balancing scale and depth. Some prioritize offering comprehensive support to maximize job placement rates, while others seek rapid growth to meet high labor demands. The green economy presents an opportunity to achieve both goals. The Need for Data One significant challenge faced by training programs is the lack of granular labor market data specific to the green economy. Innovators need better insights to align their programs with the evolving job landscape.
"With the looming threat of climate change, the U.S. economy stands on the precipice of transformation."
Market Scan: Training the Future Climate Workforce
This JFFLabs market scan is a guide for investors and policymakers who are looking to back workforce solutions that support the growth of the green economy and provide workers with quality jobs.
Anshuman Bapna: Finding Purpose in Your Career
For tech entrepreneur Anshuman Bapna, a family vacation to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia sparked his journey toward climate resilience. He recalls snorkeling there with his daughter but his son, who was also on the trip, was too young to join them. Bapna realized it might be impossible for his son to ever have that experience due to the devastating toll of climate change on the reef. That aha moment led Bapna to form a new company and a new mission.
Three years ago, he founded Terra.do – it’s the largest learning platform and job board to help people navigate their way to climate jobs. He says there are thousands of open jobs right now and expects those numbers to soar over the next decade.
Bapna says the opportunities in climate are tremendous both from a career standpoint and a chance to have an impact on the world and our environment. He says green skills will soon be as standard as digital skills.
Kianna Scott: Generating Jobs in the Green Economy
A team of Los Angeles entrepreneurs found a unique opportunity to help drive the rapidly expanding EV market and bring new opportunities to their community. The tech start-up Chargerhelp! repairs charging stations as part of its mission to help move the country toward electrification. In addition to repairing charging stations, they also train techs for quality jobs keeping those stations online.
Like so many successful entrepreneurs, the founders of Chargerhelp! saw a problem and figured out a way to solve it. The company’s CEO realized that while more charging stations were going up, there were few reliable options when it came to repairs. The CEO created a training program to provide skills to people in the community who could then become techs.
Kianna Scott, senior vice president of learning and development, says its important for people of color to pursue their dreams in the green tech space and the company's learning programs can help change lives.
Pioneering Climate-Resilient Jobs: Meet the Innovators Leading Change
The JFFLabs Climate-Resilient Solutions entrepreneurs-in-residence cohort is a dynamic group of visionary entrepreneurs who are leading the charge in revolutionizing the green economy.