Wanted: Younger workforce ready to learn about climate jobs
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
If states like Minnesota are going to meet their climate goals, experts say younger workers will need to step into the roles to make it happen - like forest management. The Biden administration is reviving plans for that type of workforce. The White House has announced its American Climate Corps project, which involves hiring 20,000 people to be trained for these positions. Minnesota is among the states moving forward with their own, similar efforts.
Julia Nerbonne, executive director of Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, said the young adults being eyed for the work present an opportunity for cross-generational learning.
"Getting some of these young people into places where they can learn from elders in their community and folks who are out there getting the job done will be valuable," she explained. "But I also think that all of us have a lot to learn from the next generation."
The move comes as President Biden faces more pressure from youth climate activists, who want him to be more aggressive in pursuing mitigation efforts. An earlier larger-scale workforce model was scrapped during congressional negotiations. The plan has drawn comparisons to the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.
Danielle Hefferan, regional Minnesota education coordinator for Climate Generation, said students have shown great deal of concern about the need for environmental solutions, but added it is not enough to push schools to teach them about it - adding these state and federal initiatives give them clearer pathways for many different roles.
"There's communication folks, storytellers, farmers - so many different roles that could be a, quote, 'climate job' and help advance towards climate solutions," she continued.
Peter Nelson, vice president of impact and innovation for Serve Minnesota, which oversees AmeriCorps programs in the state, said these new efforts as enhancing their climate work, such as getting folks trained to recruit volunteers.
"We want to get people into these service programs, to get them employed, working in areas that they're passionate about. But it's also about getting the word out - engaging with our community, because it really is [an] all hands-on deck situation," he explained.
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