Monday 7 March 2011

Green Jobs, Where Art thou?

For quite a few years now there has been lots of talk about a 'green economy' - the idea that you could have economic growth (or health for those of a no growth persuasion) through expanding green industries and employment. Most people seem to agree that in principle this is a good idea and many politicians have paid lip service to the idea, but having graduated recently I am starting to wonder where all of these green jobs are. They certainly aren't in Norwich, despite having the highest graduate stay-on rate in the country and a world class environmental science department. It feels a bit like the Norwich economy is missing a trick.

There are definitely some green jobs out there, in ecological surveying, waste management or renewable energy for example, but they aren't exactly numerous and there are disappointingly few opportunities for graduates.

It is very frustrating for all of these young people brimming with knowledge and enthusiasm, who want a low carbon job to complement their eco-conscious lifestyles and ideals. The main option open to us is to create our own green jobs, but with little business experience, that's quite a daunting prospect and there really isn't much info and advice out there.

Even in London where there is much more happening than in most places, people are wondering the same thing. So the Otesha Project - sustainable, empowered, cyclists extraordinaires - called a big meeting of lots of NGOs and government people interested in this issue to try and work out how to increase access to green jobs. Two strands of action emerged. One was encouraging and enabling young people to get experience in existing green industries, the other was helping young people to create their own green jobs. And so the Otesha 'gear up' programme was born. It is still in its infancy and it doesn't have a clear plan yet - just a clear aim!

If Norwich is truly going to 'transition' to a low carbon economy then it is going to need some of these green jobs, to provide green employment for those who want it and to provide the services - currently absent - that would help and encourage low impact living.

Some of the things that I personally think Norwich could do with are:

  • a source of sustainable underwear;

  • a call out bike repair and breakdown service (which half exists at the moment);

  • a resource centre full of secondhand parts and repair people; and

  • a reskilling service, for teaching people the skills needed for proper low carbon living all in one place *

Incidentally these are all the kind of projects that we are going to be discussing in our Spring Scheming in the evening of the 20th March. When we are going to be looking to the future of Norwich and how we can make it easier to live a low impact life. More green jobs is definitely on my list for discussion!

*I would love to do this last one, but haven't yet worked out how to make money from it while still providing an affordable service!

Photo: The Vivid Edge


  1. Great article Kerry. The situation is not much better when you are 54 and experienced. Best jobsearching/creating wishes, Charlotte

  2. Wombling CIC currently do the third one and have plans in the pipeline for the last one too!

    We collect donated unwanted 'stuff' and try to find new homes for it. The 'stuff' that's broken become repair projects as part of the training courses we have planned. Teaching new skills, promoting make do and mend.

    You make some really good points though Kerry, sounds like the Otesha project will get where it wants to be, if they can keep focussed on that aim.

    p.s. just sorry we can't help with underwear or breakdowns!

  3. Great article! I'm sorry I can't be there on the 20th, cos I'd really love to talk about this too!