The Dual Promise of Green Jobs: Sustainability and Economic Equity

  • Ellen Scully-Russ


Since a green economy is emerging, its structure, nature, and scope are malleable, offering an opportunity to improve the nature of work while also improving sustainability. This chapter reports on a case study of two green jobs training programs, one in Vermont and one in Pacific Northwest, to determine their effects on job creation and labor market functioning. The study showed that green jobs can both improve the environment and close the equity gap if policy makers leverage market dynamics and public investments to move green employers to adopt a work system based on high quality and skill standards. Results highlighted the need to bring efforts to scale, respect local conditions and relationships, be responsive to industry and worker needs, and develop new methods to synchronize labor market supply and demand.


Green jobs Workforce development Economic equity Sustainability 

Further Reading

  1. In addition to the resources listed in the reference list, the following readings are suggested for those who seek to develop a deeper understanding of a sustainable economy and the green jobs labor market.Google Scholar
  2. Basol, O. 2014. Classic or Modern: Enhancement Of Job Satisfaction Scale for Green Job Workers. Management 11 (2): 103–122.Google Scholar
  3. Bowen, K., and K. Kuralbayeva. 2015. Looking for Green Jobs: The Impact of Growth on Employment. Seoul: Global Green Growth Institute.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, M. 2015. Developing and Using Green Skills for the Transition to a Low Carbon Economy. Australian Journal of Adult Learning 55 (2): 182–203.Google Scholar
  5. Consili, D., G. Marin, Z. Marzucchi, and F. Vona. 2016. Do Green Jobs Differ from Non-green in Terms of Skill and Human Capital? Research Policy 45 (5): 1046–1060.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hess, D.J. 2012. Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy: Making and Keeping New Industries in the United States. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  7. Leszczynska, A. 2016. Conceptualization of Green Human Resource Management. In 16th International Scientific Conference on Economic and Social Development—“The Legal Challenges of Modern World” Book of Proceedings, ed. Z. Primorac, C. Bussoli, and N. Recker, 431–441. Koprivnica: Varazdin Development and Entrepreneurship Agency.Google Scholar
  8. Scully-Russ, E. 2012. Human Resource Development and Sustainability: Beyond Sustainable Organizations. Human Resource Development International 15 (4): 399–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Strietska-Ilina, O., C. Hofmann, M.D. Haro, and S. Jeon. 2012. Skills for Green Jobs: A Global View. Geneva: International Labour Organisation.Google Scholar
  10. US Government Accountability Office. 2013. Employment and Training: Labor’s Green Jobs Efforts Highlight Challenges of Targeted Training Programs for Emerging Industries [Report to Congressional Requesters]. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Accountability Office. Available at: <>


  1. Appelbaum, E. 2012. Reducing Inequality and Insecurity: Rethinking Labor and Economic Policy for the 21st Century. Work and Occupations 39 (4): 311–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cleantech Group, LLC. 2009. Clean Technology Venture Investment Falls to $1 billion in 1Q09. Press release.Google Scholar
  3. Conway, M., and R.P. Giloth. 2014. Connecting People to Work: Workforce Intermediaries and Sector Strategies. Aspen: Aspen Institute.Google Scholar
  4. Curson, J.A., M.E. Dell, R.A. Wilson, D.L. Bosworth, and B. Balduf. 2010. Who Does Workforce Planning Well? Workforce Review Team Rapid Review Summary. International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance 23 (1): 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ehresman, T., and C. Okereke. 2015. Environmental Justice and Conceptions of the Green Economy. International Environmental Agreements 15: 13–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Goerner, S.J., R.G. Dyck, and D. Langerroos. 2008. The New Science of Sustainability: Building a Foundation for Great Change. Chapel Hill: Triangle Center for Complex Systems.Google Scholar
  7. Hartman, C., and G.D. Squires, eds. 2006. Pre and Post Katrina. There Is No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster: Race, Class and Hurricane Katrina. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Jones, V. 2008. The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems. New York: Harper One.Google Scholar
  9. Kelleberg, A.L. 2011. Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: The Rise of Polarized and Precarious Employment Systems in the United States 1970s to 2000s. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  10. Korten, D.C. 2001. When Corporations Ruled the World. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.Google Scholar
  11. Lipfert, F.W. 2004. Air Pollution and Poverty: Does the Sword Cut Both Ways? Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 58 (1): 2–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Marshall, R., and H.A. Plotkin. 2010. Creating a 21st Century Workforce Development System. In Transforming the US workforce Development System: Lessons From Research and Practice, ed. D. Finegold, M. Gatta, and S. Schurman, 285–314. Champaign: Labor and Employment Relations Association.Google Scholar
  13. Pachauri, R.K., M.R. Allen, V.R. Barros, J. Broome, W. Cramer, and R. Christ. 2014. Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contributions of Working Groups I, II, and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Geneva: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.Google Scholar
  14. Pew Charitable Trusts. 2009. The Clean Energy Economy: Repowering Jobs, Businesses and Investments Across America. Washington DC: Pew Charitable Trusts.Google Scholar
  15. Pinderhughes, R.R. 2007. Green Collar Jobs: An Analysis of the Capacity of Green Businesses to Provide High Quality Jobs for Men and Women with Barriers to Employment. Berkeley: City of Berkeley Office of Energy and Sustainable Development.Google Scholar
  16. Pittman, P., and E. Scully-Russ. 2016. Workforce Planning and Development in Times of Delivery Systems Transformation. Human Resources for Health 14 (56): 1–15. Scholar
  17. Renner, M., S. Sweeney, and J. Kubit. 2008. Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-carbon World. Nairobi: United Nations Environment Programme.Google Scholar
  18. Schmid, G. 2006. Social Risk Management Through Transitional Labor Markets. Socio-Economic Review 4 (1): 1–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Smit, S., and J. Musango. 2015. Exploring Connections Between the Green Economy and Informal Economy in South Africa. South African Journal of Science 11 (12): 151–161.Google Scholar
  20. Speth, J.G. 2010. Towards a New Economy and a New Politics. Solutions 1 (5): 33–41.Google Scholar
  21. Stone, J.R. 2010. It Isn’t Easy Being Green, or Is It? Techniques: Connecting Education and Careers 85 (3): 42–45.Google Scholar
  22. Vermont Environmental Consortium. 2009. Vermont’s Environmental Sector: Identifying Green Workforce Training Needs and Opportunities. Norwich: Vermont Environmental Consortium and Yellow Wood Associates.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen Scully-Russ
    • 1
  1. 1.Associate Professor and Director of the Executive Leadership Doctoral ProgramThe George Washington UniversityWashington, DCUSA

Personalised recommendations