Why This Article is Important
My purpose for this response is not disparage Black Enterprise Magazine nor the persons in the article but to help the further the conversation on areas of job growth. The projections in the article “Charting The Growth Industries” are on target. However I was shocked by the omission of environmental and infrastructure jobs. Our country’s environment and infrastructure are paramount to our country’s long-term economic prosperity, so we can not leave these job sectors out of the national conversation. The public needs to know there are more growth areas in the job market.
What Drives These Job Markets?
The main drivers behind the environmental and infrastructure job markets are government regulation (law) and maintenance, not discretionary investment. The recession has only delayed and increased the amount of work to be done to bring our country up to standards. When the economy returns to growth levels, the money from the ARRA and pent up demand will exacerbate the shortages of engineers, scientists and technologists in these skill areas. Unfortunately, the public learns most about these shortages when disaster strikes. Here are some examples of environmental and infrastructure disasters which portend future job growth. See my suggested reading section for more information.
- The Northeast Black out of 2003 demonstrated the need for an overhaul the national electrical grid to Smart Grid Technology.
- The I-35 Bridge Collapse alerted the nation that 77,000 bridges need to be replaced.
- The Tennessee Coal Ash Spill alerted the nation to the need to deal with environmental and hazardous waste.
- The levee failures after hurricane Katrina to the need to deal with flood control issues.
All of these disasters have a root in the shortage of qualified people to do the work.
Some Jobs That Should Be On Your List
Here are some jobs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) which should be on the BE list.
- Environmental Engineers and Environmental Engineering technician jobs are slated to grow over 30% and are included in the 30 fastest growing occupations for the decade of 2008-2018. The American Recovery and Reinvestment is slated to invest billions of dollars to upgrade our water infrastructure, clean up contaminated sites and dispose of hazardous waste. According to a Clean Water Council study, a national investment of $1 billion in water infrastructure alone can create between 20,000 -26,000 jobs with many occurring outside of the construction sector. The ARRA is slated to spend over $6 billion in water this year.
- Civil Engineering jobs will grow at paltry 24% compared to environmental engineers. According to the American Society of Civil Engineer’s infrastructure report card the need to replace our municipal infrastructure of roads, bridges, schools and water infrastructure has reached critical condition.(Click here to see the Report Card).