New Climate Legislation Could Create 9 Million Jobs. Who Will Fill Them?
The Hechinger Report
February 9, 2023
In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Joe Biden touted the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as “the most significant investment ever in climate change. Ever. Lowering utility bills, creating American jobs, leading the world to a clean energy future.”
But he didn’t mention any new investment in education to help people fill all those jobs.
The nearly $400 billion in new spending in the IRA, the climate and health bill signed into law by President Biden in August, will create 537,000 jobs annually for the next decade, according to an analysis by BW Research commissioned by the Nature Conservancy. And that doesn’t include jobs created by private investment, likely to be stimulated by the tax incentives in the bill. When those are added in, the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that the Inflation Reduction Act will produce more than 9 million new jobs over the next decade.
Green jobs were trending up even before the IRA passed last fall. LinkedIn reported in 2022 that in the previous five years, U.S. jobs in renewable energy and the environment posted to its platform grew by 237 percent, while oil and gas jobs grew just 19 percent. Renewables and environment jobs on LinkedIn are on pace to outnumber oil and gas jobs later this year.
LinkedIn is also tracking “green skills” that are increasingly being listed for industries not traditionally thought of as related to the climate at all, like sustainable sourcing and waste reduction in fashion.
This new economy will need to be powered by people. People with skills that, today, they largely don’t have, ready for opportunities they may not know about yet, don’t know how to train for, or don’t see themselves in.
“The hard truth is that right now we are nowhere close to having sufficient green talent, green skills or green jobs to deliver the green transition,” the LinkedIn report states. “Based on the current trajectory of green skills growth in the labour market, we are not going to have sufficient human capital to meet our climate targets.”
I spoke to education and workforce leaders about what we need to do to fill the gap. Here’s what they said.