Saturday, March 07, 2009

As Economy Changes, So Do Jobs

This morning's NY Times carried a lead article on the "wrenching restructuring" of America's job banks. Quoting the latest unemployment figure of 8.1% or 651,000 job losses during February 2009, the Times made it clear: if you're looking for a new job, don't count on the old jobs.

The article is filled with grim statistics but this quote from John E. Silvia, chief economist with Wachovia in Charlotte, N.C. paints the picture: "These jobs aren’t coming back,” said Silvia.
A lot of production either isn’t going to happen at all, or it’s going to happen somewhere other than the United States. There are going to be fewer stores, fewer factories, fewer financial services operations. Firms are making strategic decisions that they don’t want to be in their businesses.
So where should one look for employment?

Whether you are re-entering the job market or among the generation of new job seekers, go where world attention is focused: eco friendly jobs, environmental careers, positions that concentrate of alternative energy, sustainability in all living fields.

As testament to this emerging job trend, take a look at the University of New Hampshire, recognized as a Sustainable Learning Community with an Office of Sustainability and a curriculum focused on four separate sustainability initiatives: Biodiversity Education, Climate Education, Food & Society and Culture.

Although UNH's Sustainability Office was developed as a grassroots effort in 1997, it kicked off a brand new
educational program just recently. The EcoGastronomy dual major is part of the Food & Society Initiative and got kudos in a recent article in Mother Earth magazine. This is the first such university program in the States, and points toward a new direction in job training - the future.

As further testament to this expanding field, take a look at a few web sites devoted to eco friendly positions. There's the Environmental Career Opportunities (ECO) site, listing positions in environmental law, renewable energy, natural resources and conservation, and similar fields where earth stewardship has become a professional occupation.

But save your time and jump over to the Environmental Jobs board, which posts links to numerous Green friendly job listings., one such website, offers job leads and more significantly, a full menu of updated news regrading the Greening of Business. Its report and 40-minute video, State of Green Business 2009, evaluates the progress in this area since the start of the Obama Administration in November 2008. The report is free and downloadable from their website.

Meanwhile, Obama, who campaigned on research and expansion of alternative fuel sources, may be able to persuade Congress to ratify a greenhouse gas emissions treaty likely to issue from the upcoming climate change conference in Copenhagen. According to one report, the primary issue with ratifying such a treaty is concern about employment or unemployment. But the advance of wind power may answer those fears, providing new jobs for a new sector of employment in the environmental map. In fact, there's an upcoming conference on wind power, scheduled for May 2009 in Chicago.

So, yes, employment in traditional jobs looks bleak. But a new quadrant of jobs related to energy efficiency and environmental stewardship may be the new direction for displaced workers and those training for first and second careers. It could be a global win-win in the foreseeable future.

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