Exploring the Green Infrastructure Workforce

This report describes current and future opportunities for the green infrastructure workforce, including educational, occupational, and equity considerations. Surging demand for green infrastructure across the country and the potential for a new national certification program could further professionalize the field and accelerate job growth, providing valuable opportunities for low-income, low-skilled workers to access entry-level jobs with competitive wages and some advancement potential. This report describes the current workforce and field, reviews projections for job growth, and offers recommendations for policymakers, employers, education and training providers, and other stakeholders interested in expanding job opportunities in direct installation, maintenance, and inspection (IMI) of green infrastructure (GI).

The author defines green infrastructure as “a collection of natural lands, working landscapes, and appropriate constructed interventions that conserves ecosystem functions and provides benefits to human populations.”

Examples of key findings from the report are:

  • The 30 occupations involved in this work are projected to grow through 2020.
  • The current workforce devoted to GI-IMI activities is relatively small (5% of about 3 million workers in related occupations), but the barriers to entry are low.
  • The ability of GI initiatives to spur job creation hasn’t yet reached a strong level, but opportunities will develop as the the number and scope of GI initiatives increase.

To illustrate the factors driving green infrastructure at the local level, the report profiles seven cities—Ann Arbor, Austin, Charlotte, Denver, Detroit, Lincoln (NE), and Portland (OR).

A sample of recommendations to expand GI-IMI job opportunities from the report includes:

  • More structured connections and collaboration around current and future workforce opportunities in local labor markets
  • Education and training providers can play a critical role in preparing young people and adults for GI careers.
  • Policymakers can encourage uptake of green infrastructure at the county, municipal, and regional levels.

 

This report is part of NatureWORKS, a national initiative to understand the skills, credentials, and potential of the U.S. green infrastructure workforce.

 

Publication Date: March 27, 2017

Resource Author(s):

  • Sara Lamback

Related Organizations:

  • Jobs for the Future

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