4 percent of workers spending half their time on environmental tasks, furthering green economy
Beacon Staff Reporter
In what should be music to the ears of environmental activists, as many as 835 job vacancy advertisements were found online between March and May of 2012 that were strongly linked to supporting a green economy.
According to the Labour Market Research Study conducted by Eco Canada, four per cent of workers in the Canadian labour force spent at least 50 per cent of their time on environmental tasks (682,000 workers) in 2010, and these workers represent a significant portion of Canadian green economy jobs.
These 835 vacancies were identified out of a pool of 83,451 online job postings that were collected from multiple online job aggregator websites.
The job postings included positions in Environmental Protection (38 per cent), Resource Conservation (21), Renewable and Green Energy (11), Green Services (10), Sustainability Planning, Design and Urban Design (8), Eco-Tourism (5), Energy Efficiency & Green Building (4), Alternative/Sustainable Transportation (2), Carbon & Climate Change Mitigation and Green Retail (1 per cent each).
The results of the study, which provided a framework for understanding the competencies and occupations that are in demand for supporting a green economy for Canada, showed that green careers were alive and well in areas like corporate environmental program planning and implementation, and environmental business, technology and product development.
This sample of job postings has been limited to only those which were clearly linked to supporting a green economy through the application of environmental skills and knowledge, as described in the job requirements written in job vacancy advertisements.
Jobs that had no reference to environmental skills or those with scant or vague mention of environmental skills were excluded.
“It can be said that jobs linked to the green economy account for at least 1 per cent of recent vacancies. When all forms of environmental employment are considered across sectors, this percentage is likely to be significantly higher,” the study said.
The research was based on an analysis of approximately 10,000 job vacancy advertisements that were posted online for jobs across Canada.
A set of computer-based algorithms were developed to analyze the text in each job advertisement to identify and classify the environmental skills that were referenced in the job description. Using this content analysis technique, the research team measured the demand for 17 categories of environmental skills and knowledge.
Based on occupational research conducted by ECO Canada, environmental work tends to be founded first on formal disciplines (e.g. engineers, chemists, geologists, etc.), and secondly on multi-disciplinary work, or “discipline-plus,” developed from experience and professional training.
“Discipline-plus” competencies are identified in ECO Canada’s National Occupational Standards (NOS) for environmental employment.
Canada’s National Occupational Standards are based on extensive research performed by ECO Canada on an ongoing basis.
Technical competencies were statements that described the demonstrated ability to perform a task (i.e. a series of activities that together produce a measurable result) to the satisfaction of the employer or otherwise established norms.
Transferable competencies are described as behaviour or “soft skill” that may contribute to the successful performance of various technical tasks in the area of practice.
The transition to a green economy is clearly under way, as shown by job demand, but is likely to go through a state of evolution as new technologies give rise to new environmental products and services.
“Environmental professionals undoubtedly play a crucial role in the green transition, especially in connecting environmental knowledge to strategic planning and business operations,” the study said.
These environmental integrators bridge the gap between the more technical or conventional approach to environmental work by interpreting and applying information to enable organizations to capitalize on the benefits of environmentally responsible pursuits and pass those benefits on to consumers.
As more organizations pursue a green future, the demand for environmental professionals – the key to a successful and prosperous green transition – is remarkably strong.
Since there is a clear need for new information on the trends that impact the green labour market, ECO Canada’s last few studies have looked at where environmental employment is trending and what green professionals can do to ensure their career success.