Sunday, October 16, 2011

Green collar jobs and the missing workers

I found this article interesting, particularly as it illustrates the fact that even with 9% unemployment, there are still jobs to be had, and even jobs left unfilled. Mostly, it seems, the missing workers are engineering jobs at the technician or journeyman level -- the kind of jobs I held for much of the ten or so years I spent in the workforce before I became an academic.

These are the jobs that, as Matthew Crawford pointed out, can't easily be exported to China. And the absence of adequate workforce must be holding up the recovery, since the toolrooms and assembly lines that make our stuff, however robotically, are still put together by humans: fitters, machinists, welders, and process engineers.

In the green economy, the primary missing ingredient is energy modeling and cost analysis -- there are literally thousands of dollars of energy efficiency measures to be found in almost every large institution and even in most family homes.

You'd think we would get on it, considering what's at stake, for the climate and the economy.

"Get it sorted," as we say in the yUKe.

But even here in Maine one of our most technically proficient and largest green contractors has felt the need to have its own job fair (to which our Sustainable Energy Management degree students got a special invite).

Imagine, needing to have an expensive event like this in the middle of a jobs recession!

Here's the invite, the flyer, and a neat letter that accompanied it all:

From Nicole Collins at the Unity College Career Center:

Evergreen Home Performance, a Rockland-based energy audit and contracting company, is holding a Career Exploration Open House on Tuesday, October 18. They are hoping to see some Unity students there!

The information is attached. Please contact Elise Brown, Development Manager, with any questions. Her contact info is , 594-2244 x711.

Career Exploration Open House – Tuesday, October 18, 5-7 pm

Ham Niles can’t quite remember when he first set his sights on a job with Evergreen Home Performance. He’d worked with the energy-efficiency contracting company on his own home and found that “an hour or so with them revolutionized my whole agenda and the framework on which it was based,” so he paid attention when friends mentioned a Career Exploration Open House last spring. Evergreen’s next Open House is Tuesday, October 18, from 5-7 pm, at 15 Tillson Avenue in Rockland.

It was clear that Evergreen wasn’t a regular contracting company. Everything from its mission to make homes more comfortable, healthy, and energy-efficient to its culture (family-friendly with health insurance for all full-time employees) intrigued him, so Niles applied for Evergreen’s free, six-week, 24-hour class in building science.

The course is part of Evergreen’s long-term workplace development process, explained Development Manager Elise Brown. Regular open houses and building science courses have proved an effective hiring tool. “Instead of waiting till we’re desperate for new advisors and technicians, we’ve created a longer period of time to explore the relationship with potential employees,” said Brown. “Applicants get the change to learn about the field and prove their commitment, and we get to assess their skills and enthusiasm.”

At the October 18 Open House, Energy Advisor Cree Hale Krull will explain how the training process prepared him to figure out what’s wrong with a house, explain problems and solutions to customers, write reports, and make sales. Project Manager Svea Tullberg will talk about the hands-on work she and the other technicians do to improve homes, including adding insulation and drainage systems.

Niles – who started as an Energy Advisor this month – recommends the Open House to “anyone who has a desire to more fully understand how houses work and make the leap from theory to practice.” Those who share his interest in working with “smart people who do dirty jobs with dignity and an eye for the details that count” can apply for the next building science course. Evergreen has already hired four of the students from last spring’s class, and anticipates another round of hiring soon.

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