Clean Tech Job Trends 2010 - Interview with Ron Pernick
Denis Du Bois interviews Ron Pernick, founder and managing partner of research firm Clean Edge, about the "Clean Tech Job Report 2010" released today (6 Oct 2010). Pernick discusses the U.S. cities that are hot spots for cleantech job creation, the payscales for those green jobs, the global picture for cleantech employment growth, the role of China, and how the United States can get its innovation mojo back. Meanwhile, since foreign companies will be creating a majority of green collar jobs, those jobs might as well be in the U.S. (podcast)
October 06, 2010
Program Notes & Transcript
This is a short piece I did for radio, available here in its simple form as a podcast.
DENIS DU BOIS: SOLAR POWER IS STILL A HOT SECTOR FOR GREEN JOB SEEKERS.
EIGHT OF THE TOP TEN CLEAN-TECH EMPLOYERS ARE COMPANIES LOCATED OUTSIDE THE US.
SIX OF THOSE COMPANIES ARE IN CHINA -- WHICH HAS AMBITIONS THE REST OF THE WORLD CAN'T IGNORE.
THOSE ARE THE KEY FINDINGS IN A NEW REPORT ON CLEAN TECH JOB TRENDS.
RON PERNICK, CO-FOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF CLEAN EDGE, WHICH WROTE THE REPORT, SAYS THERE IS NO SINGLE EPICENTER OF CLEANTECH JOB GROWTH.
Ron Pernick: We continue to see a lot of concentration on the coasts, with San Francisco and LA in the top two spots, followed by Boston representing the east coast, and what happened in the Boston Cambridge corridor, along with New York. So that's three and four. So that's a big representation on the east and west coast. But it's not isolated to the coasts. As we pointed out in this report, Denver comes in at number five. We've got Chicago at nine.
WHEREVER THE JOBS ARE, THEY'RE GENERALLY WELL-PAYING POSITIONS.
There are entry-level jobs, there are Ph.D.-level jobs, and they range everywhere from in the 30, 40, 50K-a-year, all the way up to six-figures.
IT'S NO SURPRISE THAT CHINA IS LEADING THE WORLD IN CLEANTECH JOBS.
I think we all knew -- it's been in the headlines -- that China's taking a very aggressive role. I think the fact that in one year, they went from having three of the top clean tech pure-play employers to six is a rather astounding marker.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF CLEANTECH MANUFACTURING IS ALSO DRIVING EMPLOYMENT GROWTH IN PLACES LIKE SOUTH KOREA, GERMANY, AND SPAIN.
OF COURSE, THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE OF THAT EXPANSION HAPPENING HERE IN THE UNITED STATES.
THE COUNTRIES THAT LEAD THE CLEANTECH REVOLUTION WILL BE THOSE THAT CAN INNOVATE AND SCALE NEW INDUSTRIES. PERNICK SAYS, IN THAT DEPARTMENT, THE UNITED STATES ISN'T AS STRONG AS IT ONCE WAS.
Maybe we haven't lost our mojo entirely, but we've sort of lost our ability to dominate certain sectors, and maybe that wasn't going to happen in clean energy. Maybe it was going to just have to be birthed out of many different places. But I think time is running out, and we've got to act on some of the things I've just talked about, and we need to support our local clean-tech infrastructure.
PERNICK SAYS THE EDUCATION SYSTEM IN THE UNITED STATES IS GOOD AT TURNING OUT ENGINEERS, BUT INCREASINGLY THOSE GRADUATES ARE RETURNING TO THEIR HOME COUNTRIES TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE GROWTH OF THOSE ECONOMIES.
CONVERSELY, COMPANIES BASED IN OTHER COUNTRIES ARE CREATING GREEN JOBS HERE IN THE UNITED STATES, BY BUILDING MANUFACTURING PLANTS AND DEVELOPING RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS HERE. PERNICK SAYS THERE ARE WAYS TO EXPAND THAT ROLE.
One of the things we talk about is domestic content laws. And the World Trade Organization doesn't really support domestic content laws, but China has quite a few, and has done a lot of things to ensure that manufacturing for their clean energy industries happens domestically in China. So they maybe had that a certain percentage of the components have to come from Chinese manufacturing. It has to be in a partnership with a Chinese firm. There are a lot of different things that they had set up. And we really haven't had that in the United States. There were some "by American" laws within certain federal procurement policies, but not for private.
And so that has been a disadvantage for us, and I'm not saying or making the case right now that we need strong domestic content laws that fly in the face of the WTO. I mean we've got to figure that all out, but I will say that we need to level the playing field.
If you look at things like feed-in tariffs, like the Ontario FIT, it has rules and regulations that say, "If you want to get access to some of that program, you need to be doing manufacturing here in Ontario." But certainly we need to be looking at that more carefully in the United States from a domestic competitiveness perspective.
I'M DENIS DU BOIS.