Invest in the future. And especially, invest in sustainable, effective job creation in the water sector. The result will be millions of new jobs – a significant result.
That is the key message from a new analysis just released today by the Pacific Institute on sustainable water jobs in the United States. That study, Sustainable Water Jobs: A National Assessment of Water-Related Green Job Opportunities, finds that proactive investments increasing efficient water use, improving water quality, expanding smart water treatment and re-use, and more will address growing problems associated with failing water infrastructure, deteriorating water quality, severe drought, and flooding, as well as create jobs in a wide range of professions.
The study identifies 136 different kinds of jobs at all levels of skill: from plumbers to landscapers, from technology specialists and engineers to irrigation experts. Thirty-seven of these job types are also projected to have high growth in the overall economy, with each offering more than 100,000 job openings across the country by 2020. That’s millions of new jobs.
The Pacific Institute identifies numerous sustainable water occupations that are accessible to workers without advanced degrees. Twenty-seven of the 37 occupations with 100,000 job openings by 2020 generally require on-the-job training, with some requiring previous experience and associate’s degrees or technical training, but not bachelor’s or graduate degrees. This translates to a more feasible pathway to employment for adults without formal education beyond high school – one of the groups around the U.S. suffering from especially high un- or under-employment.
One of the authors of the study, Eli Moore, noted
“This research indicates that water policy can expand demand for workers without bachelors or advanced degrees if occupational training programs and pathways to jobs are created.”
The study finds each investment of one million dollars in alternative water supply projects yields 10-15 jobs. The same million dollars invested in stormwater management would produce 5-20 jobs; in urban conservation and efficiency, 12-20 jobs; in agricultural efficiency and quality, 15 jobs; in ecosystem restoration and remediation, 10-70 jobs.
“Preparing people who need work to install and maintain water-saving devices and projects can heal our communities environmentally and economically,”
said Annette Williams, Director of BEST Academy at the New York-based organization Sustainable South Bronx. BEST Academy has trained people to work in river restoration, construction of rain gardens, and other water-related fields.