The Next Decade in Green Hiring

We’re hearing it on the nightly news and reading it in the morning paper: green jobs will be the future of this economy. President Obama recently commented that the US cannot fall behind other countries like China and Germany, who are at the forefront of the green technology and clean energy revolution. China has committed a massive investment of $217 billion on clean energy tech over the next five years and Germany already spends far more than the US on renewable energy. Clearly, for the US to catch up and maintain its foothold as an economic superpower, clean energy sources like wind, solar and fuel cell technology will need to be put at the forefront of our domestic production machine.

The current Obama administration has made it a goal to do this – committing a starting cache of $80 billion towards green technology as part of the stimulus package. The other part of the equation that the green revolution will supposedly solve is the job problem. Clean energy tech will be the catalyst for a slough of green hiring – from small businesses to major corporations that have thrown their chips into the eco-friendly pile. The jobs will range from blue collar workers to specialized positions that go along with each niche green technology sector.

Lets assume that this is all  going to work: one way or another it makes sense that the US needs to start investing in the future, and it is clear that renewable energy sources are the way of the future. For those companies that are taking part in this new green economy – hiring becomes the number one most important aspect of competition. As a result of the stimulus and commitment toward the green sector, it will make sense that universities (and beyond) begin to train the next generation of engineers, scientists, technicians, managers, marketing specialists and all other high-level positions associated with green technology. Companies that want to get a hold of this new and specialized talent will need to stay on their toes to properly attract applicants.

The internet boom, and the rise of highly specialized programmers is a great example of this hiring ecosystem.  During the previous decade, as companies like Google and Facebook blew up, the demand for their specific services also rose, pushing the value of the programming talent. Not only did programming become more niche depending on what type of internet service you wanted to build (you need a PHP coder for one thing, a MySQL programmer for another, etc.) but the varying skill level of these programmers became more visible based on past work as well. A similar hiring ecosystem seems to be in its nascent phase with clean energy tech.

As clean energy tech gains steam, specific green skill sets will also become more valuable. Attracting this type of niche green tech talent will need to become a priority for companies both large and small, because it will determine what kind of competitive edge a business can forge through proprietary technologies. Just as in the web boom, companies can attract the best talent by distinguishing themselves through culture, pay grade, branding and an aggressive recruiting program. Many green companies will benefit from using cutting edge hiring software, which can allow them to easily track applicants, post on job boards and analyze statistics.

The future of green technology is here, that’s for sure – and the next generation of Googles (Chevrons to be more parallel) will live and die on finding the right talent.

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