Charlie Johnson is the Oregon Employment Department’s Green Jobs Economist. Charlie coordinates the department’s efforts in a $1.25 million research grant focused on improving the state’s green jobs related labor market information. Oregon Workforce & Economic Information Blog
This is the second in the ‘User Spotlight’ series, where we highlight different users and have them offer suggestions on what they would like to see from the website.
User Name: Charlie Johnson
Affiliation: Green Jobs Economist, Oregon Employment Department
Involvement with “green”: My role is to coordinate Oregon’s “Green Labor Market Information Improvement Grant”. Oregon is in the process of researching what types of knowledge, skills, and abilities set green jobs apart from their counterparts within the same occupations – identifying competency needs that can be addressed in the workforce training system. This information will feed in to a new “Statewide Green Career Pathways” project which will provide information about potential careers and available training to career seekers interested in green jobs. We will also be tracking people who complete green training programs to see if they are more successful in the job market than people who complete other types of training programs. Oregon is also conducting a survey of the agriculture sector, and will be incorporating new software products in to our current websites to offer job seekers better information about green jobs.
Use of Green Jobs CoP: I was an early contributor to the website as Oregon was one of the first states in the nation to complete a comprehensive survey of green jobs. However, my participation has waned slightly since then. I most often use the site to keep track of new reports and publications related to green jobs. This site does a great job of bringing together a wide variety of resources that would be difficult to find otherwise.
Suggestions for the Green CoO?: I think the resources on the site could be better organized, possibly through the use of subdirectories that give greater detail about the topic of each report. Rather than automatically organizing the documents by date, I would like to see them ordered by some indication of their usefulness – possibly the view count or the number of times each item has been downloaded. In fact, a user rating system that allows CoP members to “rate” how useful each resource was to them would be very helpful in identifying which reports I should be reading.
The most useful and interesting change to the CoP, in my opinion, would be the addition of a discussion area within each of the resource pages. As it is currently designed I can click on the name of a report, and a second page will appear that shows more information about the report with a “download” button. If this second page included the ability to “comment” I could quickly read what other users had to say about the report, and users could have open discussion about different points made by the authors.
All of this said, I need to be clear about one thing: the most important change I would like to see in the CoP is more user discussion! The resources are useful, but I am most interested in what other users of this site are thinking/feeling/researching/discovering about green jobs. The discussion section of the site has a total of just more than 20 comments – not nearly enough to achieve the type of back-and-forth learning that I think could occur on this site. This CoP is an amazing tool, and it represents a rare opportunity for workforce professionals, researchers, and other though leaders to interact and to learn from one another.
The tool is here… let’s use it!
Michelle Melton is a Research Analyst with the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
The Green Jobs Community of Practice is meant to be a resource for workforce development professionals, researchers, and labor market information specialists to remain informed about what is happening at all levels—the local, state, and federal—as green increasingly seeks into the economy and the world of work. The CoP is a useful place for practitioners and researchers to come together. In this ‘User Spotlight’ series, we highlight different users and have them offer suggestions on what they would like to see from the website.
User Name: Michelle Melton
Affiliation: Research Analyst; Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
Involvement with “green”: The Center on Education and the Workforce is a partner in the eight-state Northeastern consortium LMI grant. We are tasked with defining green for the consortium, as well as counting and projection job openings using Burning Glass data (similar to Help Wanted Online data). Currently, we are working on novel ways to find and track green jobs within real time job postings data.
Use of Green Jobs CoP: I have been active on the website for more than six months, and have most frequently used the ‘resources’ section. I have found it particularly helpful in bringing together disparate information from states, policy groups, and business groups.
Suggestions for the Green CoP?: I love that there are so many resources on the website. However, I think it would be helpful to have them more organized. Currently, the resources are organized into five folders, and within the folders there are no sub-folders, and resources are arranged by date. I would suggest categorizing and organizing the resources topically. For example, under “Building a Green Economy,” there could perhaps be a “State Reports” sub-folder, which would contain all the state reports on green, another folder for “policy papers,” “national green job counts,” etc. In addition, perhaps adding a sentence blurb detailing what the paper/resource is would help readers decide what information is most useful to them. “Grey is the New Green,” which is the title of one resource, doesn’t provide enough information for me to know if it’s worth looking into. I think that better organization and very brief resource descriptions would help steer people towards the resources they need.
Another suggestion is to more clearly link between the green jobs CoP and other important websites, such as O*NET and the BLS. These links may exist, but they are buried in all the information on the site. I suggest that next to the “Calendar” tab on the homepage, there be a “LINKS” tab, that has links to only a few very important green websites (such as O*NET and BLS). Finally, in addition to the links page, there is no obvious way to contact the site administrators. This function would be very helpful for people looking to get in touch with the site’s administrators.
How do you use the Green Jobs CoP? Suggestions?
Michelle Melton is a Research Analyst with the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
This blog is adapted from a longer paper by the Center on Education and the Workforce, Measuring Green Jobs.
It seems like everyone has the urge to slap the label green on anything and everything these days—whether it’s a consumer good or a lifestyle, green is definitely hot. Seemingly everything is green—green jobs, green manufacturing, a green economy. But is everyone on the same page about what exactly green is? The answer appears to be no. After combing through scores of reports and documents about green, it is clear that there are three distinct but related concepts defining green .
Why do these differing definitions matter? Many stakeholders have a lot of skin in the game. The federal government, state and local governments, industry groups, researchers and academic institutions, and non-profit and advocacy groups, have attempted to define and count green jobs. For the green economy to come to be, successful strategic investment in future green workforces are critical – and clear consistent and meaning definition will drive this.. It is not possible to successfully train workers for the green economy without knowing precisely what it constitutes.
When people talk about “green jobs” and the “green economy,” they’re usually referring to one of three green definitions: the worker-centered definition, the clean energy definition, or the broad environmental definition.
(a) The Worker-centered Definition of ‘Green’:
This definition is used by proponents including former Green Jobs Czar Van Jones and his Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, the Apollo Alliance, the BlueGreen Alliance, the Vice President Joe Biden’s Middle Class Task Force, and Green for All (also founded and led by Jones), as well as many local organizations. These groups, which are heavily influenced by the labor movement and often include active participation by unions, have helped propel the ‘green jobs’ movement forward and played a fundamental role in putting green jobs on the political agenda. The first cluster of definitions is worker-centered, focusing not on the economic output/product or the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to perform the work, but the “job quality,” i.e. worker’s compensation, job security, and opportunities for advancement. From this cluster, an exemplary definition of green jobs is a “well-paid, career track job that contributes directly to preserving or enhancing environmental quality.”
(b) Energy-centered ‘Green’ Definition
These definitions classify green jobs as jobs exclusively within the realm of energy production and consumption, specifically the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors (RE/EE). While all three clusters of definitions recognize RE/EE as the foundation of the green economy, this cluster is distinct by its sole focus on RE/EE. In other words, it is an energy and technology-driven definition. This definition of green is used by many, most notably the federal government in its legislation regarding green (including the Stimulus) and many state governments.
(c) All-encompassing ‘Green’ Definition
The third and largest cluster of definitions is comprised of the expansive, all-encompassing definitions that attempt to group all economic activities related to the environment as green jobs. These definitions attempt to include, in other words, all jobs that ‘preserve or enhance environmental quality.’ These include jobs related to: renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction; energy efficiency; environmental remediation, including pollution control and clean-up; manufacturing of products related to green technologies; recycling and waste reduction; natural resource conservation and management; energy trading; environmental regulation, education, and protection/stewardship; mass transportation; energy and carbon capture; research, design, and consulting; and agriculture and forestry. Groups who utilize these definitions range from O*NET, to multiple states, to the United Nations and the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ initial, not-yet-official definition.
These definitions are not necessarily in conflict, but they are certainly not interchangeable. Policymakers, advocacy organizations, and workforce development folks would benefit from understanding their distinctions and the implications for workforce development and training. For more information, please see the Georgetown Univeristy Center on Education and the Workforce's website Measuring Green Jobs.