July 30, 2012
Fifth in a series on the ‘Now or Never” report of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (ENEV).
That’s right. You guessed it. Today’s Priority is all about jobs. When you get down to the basics of this report, it is about managing Canada’s future growth in the energy sector. That growth means Canada needs an energy workforce that is trained, skilled, accredited and ready to go.
Where will these workers come from? Priority 5 sites a few examples such as First Nations communities and foreign skilled workers. And the government seems to be working to make that happen. The 2012 federal budget provided $275 million over three years to support First Nations’ education and training. The government has also made a commitment to modify the provincial Nominee Program to improve employer access the foreign workers.
So it’s up to the federal, provincial and territorial governments to work together to develop a plan to successfully develop and utilize workforce resources. To that end, the federal government does its part by providing funding to help the provinces and territories deliver employment training and education programs for those who wish to work.
Pressure is on. The need is now.
The labour force crunch is becoming evident again here in Calgary. Even just driving around listening to the radio, I’ve often heard advertisements for fast-track programs at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT).
It’s easy to understand why industry growth equals more jobs. So today’s lesson links will be valuable if you’re at all interested in working or improving your skills in any of the various energy industries. The Petroleum Human Resource Council provides a lot of information about working in the energy sector, including a job board, career planning information and training and education. Eco Canada also provides resources to help you plan a career, find a job, has a career fair coming up in Calgary in October and provides training and accreditation resources.
May 10, 2012
Edmonton will be playing host to the Alberta Skills Canada competition May 10 – May 15. There will be Try-A-Trade® demonstrations as well as ongoing competitions for high school and post secondary students. The GETT conference, sponsored by Cenovus also runs on Friday, May 11. It’s an opportunity for high school girls to connect with certified tradeswomen, apprentices and technology experts and chat about pursuing a different kind of career. All of the events take place at the Edmonton Expo Centre, Northlands.
So if you are trying to decide which career path is right for you, drop by Skills City.
December 30, 2009
Many of the buildings we live and work in are in need of serious changes in order to meet the challenges of a more environmentally and energy-conscious world. Commercial buildings alone, for example, are responsible for 13 per cent of Canada’s carbon emissions. And with new tools like a simulation program designed to improve a building’s efficiency and government incentives, it’s no wonder that many Canadian locations saw green renovations in 2009. Among the many high profile green renovations of 2009, Flow took a look at…
Google’s Canadian headquarters and a pair of Canadian hospitals that included technologies as progressive as a solar heating system and familiar as triple-glazed windows. And while it hasn’t been a renovation per se, the construction of Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business goes to show that green buildings are starting out fresh as well.
Internationally, Flow covered the undergo $350 million green renovations on the Sears Tower and the Utopian plan for the headquarters of The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The need for efficiency and a lower carbon footprint, after all, is a global issue. But not every green renovation is taking place in buildings.
Some of the most important green renovation projects are currently happening inside the minds of Canadian students and working professionals. As we outlined with the five top green careers for 2009, a growing “green collar” sector is emerging to fill the gap left as eco-professionals begin to retire.
Specific programs like Stanford University’s Precourt Institute for Energy and Canada’s Green Energy Action Fund are designed to promote green careers in energy and the technology to enable them. These programs are part of a general trend toward education that reflect a broader awareness of energy as it impacts the daily world.
And if 2009 is any indication, the message is already resonating with young people across North America who invent energy innovations. If a 15-year-old Texan can create an algae-powered energy system or a 17-year-old Calgarian can invented a solar powered tracking system, there’s hope that the changes we’re making in our buildings and our ways of thinking really can change the world.
August 10, 2009
This summer, the world is coming to Toronto.
“The world” means students, and “Toronto” means York University. Working in conjunction with the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), York just launched its newest – and greenest – summer program.
The course is designed to groom the next, international, generation of “green thinkers.” The course, Design for Sustainability in the Built Environment: Interactive Workshop is open to junior and senior undergraduate students from a variety of disciplines.
How does one groom a generation of green thinkers? By taking a broad, interdisciplinary approach. Environmental issues problems are inherently complex, and cover a lot of ground. Environmental law, green building rating systems, business and policy case study – and more.
That’s the idea behind York’s program. Tomorrow’s environmental problems will be best resolved if most decision makers and stakeholders have a broad (if not comprehensive) understanding of the issues involved. As environmental issues know no borders, neither will this program.
The course will take advantage of all the resources Toronto has to offer. York’s Environmental Studies program is well-regarded to begin with, but workshops will also take place at the LEED Gold certified Earth Rangers Centre at the Kortright Centre for Conservation as well as Toronto and Region Conservation’s environmental education centre.
York and World GBC have high hopes for the program. It’s the first of its kind in North America, and the first to involve undergrads from around the world.
Global issues really do require global solutions – and York is doing its best to create some.
June 15, 2009
The continued growth in worldwide environmental consciousness also means a continued growth in prosperous new work opportunities. As forecasts of employment growth in the environmental sector double the national average in the next two years, environmental professions have become the hottest career opportunities for anyone from new graduates to seasoned veterans in other industries. Growing demand for workers, higher than average salaries, employer dedication to professional development, the aging work force, and the opportunity to positively contribute to the environment in exciting ways are all emerging factors that are creating lucrative and engaging careers possibilities in the environmental sector.
Operating Canada’s largest environmental job board, ECO Canada is the leading authority on environmental human resources. According to ECO Canada, the five hottest green careers in the country today are:
1. Environmental Engineer “The Green Designer”
Environmental engineers plan, design and supervise industrial components and processes and are also often involved in regulatory procedures when reviewing facilities to ensure they are complying with environmental policies and guidelines. Many environmental engineers choose to specialize in a specific area, such as air or water quality or solid and hazardous waste management and may be found working in a number of industries, including pulp and paper, oil and gas, and manufacturing.
This career might be for you if you excel at: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Calculus, Biology.
This career might have transferability from: Engineering
2. Environmental Technologist/Technician “The Green Performer”
Environmental technologists/ technicians work on a variety of projects to assess, clean up and protect the environment. They require broad scientific knowledge and technical skills and get involved in projects such as collecting and analyzing air, water, and soil samples; conducting field inspections and investigations of contamination; operating and monitoring pollution control and treatment equipment; monitoring compliance with federal and provincial regulations; or participating in environmental assessments and cleanup efforts.
This career might be for you if you excel at: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Calculus, Computer Science.
This career might have transferability from: All Sciences, Engineering Technology, Lab Technician.
3. Conservation Biologist “The Green Protector”
Conservation biologists focus on how to protect and restore biodiversity as well as understand and minimize human impacts on the natural world. They utilize planning and sustainable management practices to prevent species extinction and repair damage to ecosystems.
This career might be for you if you excel at: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, English, Computer Science.
This career might have transferability from: Zoology, Geology, Geography, Anthropology, Forestry.
4. Geographic Information System (GIS) Analyst “The Green Tracker”
GIS analysts use digital mapping techniques that link computer-generated maps with various databases. They work to integrate biophysical, ecological, and socio-economic data that can be analyzed for purposes such as tracking wildlife, mapping erosion, monitoring air and water quality, or measuring logging rates.
This career might be for you if you excel at: Geography, Art, Computer Science, Physics.
This career might have transferability from: Geography, Computer Science, Information Technology.
5. Environmental Communications Officer “The Green Ambassador”
Environmental communications officers disseminate information on environmental issues and coordinate and execute environmental events on behalf of their organizations. They can be involved in long-term projects, such as public information and education campaigns, as well as short-term projects, such as responding to a toxic spill. Environmental communications officers use their skills in writing, design, media relations, and networking to educate the public and encourage environmental protection and conservation.
This career might be for you if you excel at: English, Writing, Communications, Social Studies.
This career might have transferability from: Journalism, Communications, Marketing, Sociology, Political Science, Education.
According to the preliminary findings of ECO Canada’s 2008 Employment Labour Market Study, 65% of environmental employers in Canada were hiring for environmental positions in the past year. By experience level, half of organizations had vacancies for entry level positions, 44% had vacancies for junior positions and 27% had openings for senior level candidates. Economic and regulatory indicators point to those statistics climbing even higher, as 68% of green firms confirmed that they plan to expand their operations within the next two years.
Adding to the allure of “green collar” professions is the fact that the current environmental workforce is older than the overall Canadian workforce. A majority 54% of employees in management positions are 45 years of age or older. This means that there are likely to be fast-tracked management opportunities abound and strong employer incentives due to this anticipated wave of retirement.
Relentless industry growth requires a more proactive approach to human resources management and employers are encouraging students to consider specific fields of study which they believe will be in high demand in the coming years. One third of companies identified ‘water quality’ as one such subsector with concern for future need, followed closely by ‘waste management’, ‘land quality’ and ‘restoration and reclamation’. Professional, scientific & technical positions in the environmental field will continue to provide the most sought after industry services, with an anticipated 4.5% increase in these green jobs by 2010, as compared to the projected increase in the national average of 2.3%.
Charged with an unrelenting desire to truly make a difference in this battle against worldwide environmental degradation, this growing army of green professionals will be our stewards for a cleaner earth. Those with a vision and undying effort will be thrust into leadership positions and charged with the responsibility of correcting past mistakes and improving the practices of the rest of the planet – and they will make a healthy salary along the way.
March 12, 2009
So…when nature calls, the LAST thing you are probably thinking about is the possible energy that could be generated or the environmental engineers who make it happen.
But it all has to go somewhere and someone needs to find the best way to…well…handle it. For decades, environmental engineers have been looking at sustainable waste management techniques.
These days, with a shift toward sustainable energy practices, environmental engineers can answer the ‘Call of Nature’ and help with the green energy movement. According to ECO Canada, the leading authority on environmental human resources, Environmental Engineering leads the country as one of the five hottest green careers.
Environmental engineers now work to create the most modern waste treatment facilities which digest waste once it has been removed from the water, producing methane gas which is then burned to generate electricity. Methane gas is an odorless, clean-burning heat energy source.
Not only does this electricity power the sewage treatment plants, any leftover energy is used to power homes, schools, and businesses. After digestion, the resulting compost may be spread on crops, which are in turn fed to animals that produce milk and the meat we eat. Waste not, want not.
New high school graduates having a hard time flushing out their career choices, and experienced civil engineers looking to transition into a green job may not want to ‘waste’ time but indeed pursue a career in environmental engineering.
March 3, 2009
The emerging eco-industry is touted as the wave of the future: the path to green living, the key to arresting climate change and global warming. It means replacing the thousands of “brown” jobs that must out of necessity become obsolete with new, “green” jobs. Powering the movement to renewable energy and environmental consciousness is a new employment sector: green careers.
But it’s something of a paradox.
While the eco-industry is young, it’s overwhelmingly driven, operated, and reliant upon people nearing retirement. Take eco-thought leader, David Suzuki. He’s certainly no spring chicken. Well, you may say Suzuki – dynamo that he is – is just one man. True enough, but he’s representative of a worrisome trend. Over the next ten years, all those inevitable retirements, combined with a woeful lack of graduation and hiring, will create a vicious circle of non-replacement.
Given the necessity of the green job industry, the word “crisis” is being used to describe the challenge. And perhaps, it’s not alarmist. The Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences, for example, says Canada is facing a “looming and wide-ranging” shortage of qualified scientists.
How serious is this shortfall?
It’s already a full-blown crisis in certain sectors. According to the Electricity Sector Council’s 2008 report, the electricity industry faces an immediate shortfall of 1,300 positions every year for the next three years. Looming retirement makes the situation even worse. Nearly 30 per cent of the industry, approximately 25,000 positions must be replaced within the next six years to meet Canada’s energy demands.
The infrastructure backbone of the green movement, the trades are also facing serious shortages. Before things like, say, solar cells can be put to use, labourers need to learn the necessary skills to construct, install and connect them to the grid. Forget connecting to the grid, skilled trades are needed to expand the grid to accommodate new green sources of energy.
“The majority of our skilled labourers are nearing retirement,” says Mira Shenker, editor of ReNew Canada, a magazine devoted to infrastructure renewal. “The young people who could take their places are not interested in becoming trades workers.”
In a very real sense, the timing could not be more unfortunate. Canada and the United States are in the beginning stages of a boom of new eco-industry jobs – or would be, if they manage to find people to hire for them.
A recent forecast by the American Solar Energy Society demonstrated that nearly 8.5 million new jobs were created in the renewable energy and energy-efficient industries. By 2030, they forecast that number to reach 40 million.
Is that a lot? In 2006, 7.68 million Americans worked in construction – hardly an insignificant industry. In Canada, about 530,000 (approximately 3 per cent of the labour force) work in “an environmentally related job.” That’s roughly (very roughly) on par with the two countries’ respective populations, which points to a continent-wide trend – if not a global one.
Germany, for example, created 250,000 “eco-jobs” in the same time frame. A 2007 study by the German environment ministry predicted that 150,000 new green jobs would be created by 2020.
Where is this mini-boom coming from? Political will. The federal government has committed itself to deriving 90 per cent of Canada’s electricity from non-emitting sources by 2020. Recognizing the impossibility of getting there without a suitably trained (or re-trained) workforce, the energy ministry is doing all it can to assist private organizations in training.
A recently-announced partnership between the energy ministry and the Electricity Sector Council will help train solar equipment installers. The ministry will also support the Association of Canadian Community Colleges to develop a national curriculum for designers and installers of solar energy systems. Courses will include design and installation for commercial and residential solar hot water system and for various applications and sizes of photovoltaic systems.
The provinces are getting into the act as well. Last year, Ontario’s Chief Energy Conservation Officer (CECO), officially recommended appointing energy conservation officers for all health care and academic institutions, and all leading businesses. Ontario is a big province – that’s a lot of energy conservation officers.
Ontario is also proposing The Green Energy Act, slated to be introduced in the legislature by late-February, which will expand Ontario’s use of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass and biogas. It will also encourage energy conservation and create more than 50,000 green jobs over the next three years.
In 2007, the CECO’s report recommended the creation of a Municipal Energy Conservation Office in every Ontario community. Slightly more than a year later, 15 Municipal Energy Conservation Officers have been appointed, with more on the way. Again, the issue is a lack of suitable candidates.
John Challenger, chief executive of the American Solar Energy Society, appeals to students entering post-secondary institutions. “The demand for ‘green-collar’ jobs is really exploding, especially as the cost of energy continues to climb. Students need to start thinking about developing skills that will give them an edge for these types of careers that did not even exist until recently.”
The host of new green careers ranges from Hydrologists, Environmental Engineers, and Conservation Biologists to Pollution Control Engineers and Toxicologists. The emerging eco-industry also needs people from traditional disciplines, trained in new ways: lawyers versed in environmental legislation, LEED-certified architects and urban planners, or ordinary trades trained in new energy efficient construction techniques.
That’s the paradox. Just as society starts to accept alternative energy, at-home energy conservation, and changing their day-to-day habits, there may not be enough people to design and construct geothermal wells and windmills, or build environmentally-friendly homes and public buildings.
It’s all-too-easy to see where that leads. The cost of such things goes through the roof, largely driven by spiralling labour costs, undermining public acceptance of what is still a new and vulnerable industry. For that reason, sceptics think the eco-industry boom will be a short-lived one. Economics has a way of trumping ethics, they say.
But change can happen quickly. A generation ago, the tiny republic of Iceland burned coal for the majority of its electricity. Now? Almost 100 per cent comes from clean sources such as tidal and (particularly) geothermal.
What happened in Iceland? Nothing, really – the mood just changed. It seems to be changing here too. So for students looking to choose a career, the winds still look favourable for eco-jobs.