State green tech survey sees growth

Sopogy Solar
Sopogy Solar
File Photo | Ryan Ozawa

A state survey backed by federal stimulus funds predicts that “green jobs” will grow by over 25 percent in the next two years.

The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) today released job projections related to Hawaii’s renewable energy and energy efficiency occupations, commonly known as “Green” Jobs. The report is a product of a $1.2 million competitive federal stimulus grant Hawaii was awarded a year ago.

Two goals of the grant were to define what a “Green” job is and then to survey employers to identify job projections and skill sets. The state and counties will utilize this information to assist job seekers in finding employment or job training.

The department defined Green jobs as those that engage in at least one of five core green areas: (1) Generate clean, renewable, sustainable energy; (2) Reduce pollution and waste, conserve natural resources, recycle; (3) Energy efficiency; (4) Education, training and support of a green workforce; and (5) Natural, environmentally-friendly production.

Key findings include:

  • Green jobs in the private sector of Hawaii are estimated at 11,145, which accounts for 2.4 percent of total private employment. Green jobs are identified in 203 occupations across 19 major industry groups. Sixty-five percent of Hawaii’s green jobs are found in three major industries – Construction, Professional Services, and Administrative & Support, Waste Management & Remediation Services. Five occupations — Janitors & Cleaners, Forest & Conservation Technicians, Security Guards, Electricians, and Heating & Air Conditioning Mechanics & Installers — account for 28 percent of the green workforce.
  • Current green job vacancies are estimated at 670, which represent 1.5 percent of Hawaii is total unemployment. Nearly three-quarters of these vacancies occur in three industries – Construction, Agriculture and Professional Services.
  • Businesses anticipate green employment to grow faster than the overall labor market in Hawaii. Between 2010 and 2012, employer worksites project the number of green jobs to increase by 26 percent to 14,048, accounting for 2.9 percent of total employment. Occupations expected to experience the most growth in green jobs during this period are solar and insulation technicians. All counties report an increase in the number of green jobs by 2012, with Oahu projecting the largest number (1,885 new green jobs) and Hawaii County the highest rate of growth (42 percent).
  • Community colleges and trade schools fulfill 62 percent of the education and training requirements for reported green jobs. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification was the most commonly cited qualification.
  • Businesses report an average of 3.5 green practices per worksite, with the largest numbers found in Maui and Kauai counties. Recycling, use of recycled products, and energy-saving light bulbs are the most common practices. Over 90 percent of worksites report at least one green practice.

Policy makers, business leaders and the public can utilize this “green” intelligence to help guide their strategic decision-making in areas such as investment, education and workforce development. The results of the survey will also allow State, County and private workforce development agencies to train Hawaii’s labor force and place them into employment.
The report provides a framework for assessing green jobs in the private sector of the State of Hawaii. Survey responses, from a statistical sample of all Hawaii businesses, provide data on over 4,000 worksites for the first quarter of 2010. This represents a 44 percent overall response rate.

The Hawaii Green Jobs Initiative is a partnership between the DLIR, Hawaii Workforce Development Council, Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, University of Hawai‘i Community Colleges, and the four county Local Workforce Investment Boards. The U.S. Department of Labor funds this program through a competitive grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

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