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Four in 10 HR professionals say their company is prepping for Green job creation

A poll from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows that 40 percent of HR professionals say their organization is currently focused on creating green jobs or adding green duties to existing jobs. The SHRM poll, Green Job–Are They Here Yet?, shows that another five percent plan to do so, reflecting a total of 45 percent actively engaged in green job creation. To ready workers, 67 percent are or will provide on-the-job training while 31 percent are paying for employees to take skills courses and 28 percent are paying for employees to obtain related certificates or licenses.

SHRM data also shows that among the 40 percent of organizations currently planning for green jobs, 65 percent have stepped up efforts in the past 12 months while 34 percent have held steady their efforts. Compared to two years ago, 79 percent have boosted their focus on green job creation.

When asked what has taken place during the past 12 months to the meet the demands for “greener” ways of working, 81 percent of HR professionals polled said new duties have been added to existing positions at their organization. Nearly one quarter (23 percent) reported the creation of completely new green jobs or the addition of green duties within newly created jobs. “Green jobs are not a far off economic reality but a current business strategy being embraced by many companies, some with small steps and others with wide-scale plans,” said Mark Schmit, director of research at SHRM. “We are particularly encouraged by the efforts organizations are making in adding green duties to existing jobs.”

While the number of organizations able to create completely new green jobs is relatively low, HR professionals said adding green duties to existing job categories is practical and achievable:

  • 80 percent are making green office and administrative support occupations;
  • 79 percent are making green transportation and material moving occupations;
  • 76 percent are making green service occupations;
  • 74 percent are making green construction trades and related workers;
  • 74 percent are making green installation, maintenance and repair occupations;
  • 72 percent are making green management, business, and financial occupations;
  • 72 percent are making green production occupations;
  • 68 percent are making green sales and related occupations;
  • 68 percent are making green professional and related occupations; and
  • 67 percent are making green farming, fishing and forestry occupations.

Among those organizations able to create completely new green positions –where 25 percent to 100 percent of the job has green duties –five stand out:

  1. sales and related occupations, according to 14 percent of HR professionals;
  2. management, business and financial occupations, according to 13 percent of HR professionals;
  3. professional and related occupations, according to 13 percent of HR professionals;
  4.  farming, fishing and forestry occupations, according to 11 percent of HR professionals; and
  5. production occupations, according to 10 percent of HR professionals.

“Green jobs serve to employ individuals while respecting the environment –these jobs reduce pollution or waste, reduce energy usage, reduce the use of limited natural resources, protect wildlife and ecosystems, lower carbon emissions, and serve to aid the development of alternative energy,” reminded Schmit.

The poll defines production workers as individuals employed mainly in manufacturing, where they assemble goods and operate plants. Green jobs in this category would include assemblers and fabricators of green products, alternative energy power distributors and dispatchers or water and waste recycling and management system operators.

Farming, fishing and forestry workers are those who cultivate plants, breed and raise livestock and catch animals. Green jobs in this occupational category include forest and conservation workers, organic farmers and agricultural inspectors.

Green jobs in the professional and related occupations workers category include green-building and landscape architects, engineers, biological or conservation scientists, foresters, environmental technicians and specialists, commercial and industrial designers, and occupational health and safety specialists.

Workers in management, business and financial occupations plan and direct the activities of business, government and other organizations. Related green jobs include construction managers, engineering or natural science managers, farming or agricultural managers, production managers for green industries or top executives such as chief sustainability officer.

Green jobs in the sales and related occupations category include the selling of green goods and services across a wide variety of industries, especially retail sales.

Among the 55 percent of organizations not focusing on green jobs, the overwhelming majority –75 percent –said no need or opportunity exists in their organization for green jobs while 17 percent cited the cost implication for creating green jobs. Only 16 percent noted a lack of support by management.

The SHRM green jobs poll surveyed 1,705 randomly selected HR professionals across industries and the country. It was fielded in June 4-15, 2010.

Source: Society for Human Resource Management; www.shrm.org.