Grabbing African Americans by the Green Collar - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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Trainees in a green jobs training program performs rooftop maintenance. (Source: The Majora Carter Group L.L.C.)

When many black people think of jobs that create environmental efficiency, they often think of Buck Rogers and space-age technology. That misconception could potentially keep black workers out of the green-collar industry, which is predicted to be the largest employment wave the country has seen in decades.

“A green job isn’t only just a new job, but it tweaks existing jobs that existing business owners can do if they have the education. A roofer in the community can easily get training to become a solar installer. The demand for solar is going to increase more than the demand to put shingles up,” says Philip O’Neal, a founder of Green DMV, a non-profit that promotes green jobs for low-income communities in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. “A landscaper can easily go from laying sod on the ground to putting green roofs on the rooftops of homes.”

While the majority of green jobs are held by engineers and consultants, there is also a growing need to build a blue-green workforce so that the local painter, roofer, or landscaper can also ride the green jobs wave.

Green jobs exist within a broad range of industries, so the education and training necessary to get these jobs is diverse,” says Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, the CEO of Green For All, an organization dedicated to an inclusive green economy.

President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides $500 million for green-collar training. It also invests a lot of money to increase the energy efficiency of buildings, which will create a lot of immediate jobs for workers who have skills in energy auditing, says Ellis-Lamkins. According to a 2008 report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors “U.S. Metro Economies: Current and Potential Green Jobs in the U.S. Economy” 85% of green jobs were located in metropolitan areas in 2006.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.