Is the creation of five million new ‘green collar’ jobs realistic?

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President Obama’s plan to turn around the US economy includes US$150bn of investment in green energy over the next ten years, driving America towards energy independence whilst creating 5 million ‘green collar’ jobs. Nobody could question the need for the new US president to take action to resurrect the US economy or our need for the US to take a prominent role in the battle against climate change. However, is creating five million renewable energy jobs in the US realistic currently? And if not why not?

According to Wikipedia a ‘green collar’ worker is someone who is employed in the environmental sectors of the economy. When Obama has talked about green collar jobs in recent times in relation to his New Energy for America Plan he has referred more specifically to jobs within the renewable energy sector and its supply chain. Today there is a growing skills shortage within the renewable energy sector globally. While many other industries are making redundancies recruiters in the renewable energy markets are currently kept very busy. Many employers within the sector are still battling with a bottleneck that threatens the growth of their businesses and that of the whole sector. Why is that?

The industry is still in its relative infancy so unlike many other industries there are comparatively few professionals with more than a few years’ experience. Over the past 5 years the industry has experienced huge growth and with many countries setting aggressive carbon reduction targets is further growth sustainable or even possible? It could be argued that the availability of economic capital to simulate growth is not all that’s needed, and in fact the availability of human capital could be in reality the limiting factor.

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