Creating Career Pathways in the Green Economy

Working with employers to create career pathways, training, and supports that prepare low-income adults for family-supporting careers in the rapidly growing green economy. 

Geri Scott
Program Director, Building Economic Opportunity
617.728.4446 x125

GreenWays outcomes to date:

GreenWays prepares low-income adults for jobs with career advancement potential in the following sectors of the green economy.

  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Construction of energy-efficient buildings
  • Deconstruction of structures that have outgrown their use
  • Landscaping and urban forestry
  • Renewable electric power and utilities
  • Transportation

Unprecedented levels of government, nonprofit, and private sector investments in building a green economy will transform how the nation produces and uses energy to address global warming, increase energy security, and stimulate economic growth. While success depends on a highly skilled workforce, the “greening” of our economy also promises many new opportunities for lower-skilled workers to advance in their careers. Wages in green jobs are often higher than the national median and accessible to lower-skilled workers. Moreover, many jobseekers from mature industry sectors can qualify for employment in emerging green economic sectors simply by enhancing their skills.

However, many low-income adults still face barriers to succeeding in the green economy. These include poor basic skills, a lack of required job-specific skills, and limited knowledge about the skills they need and how to gain them. Once in training, low-skilled workers commonly need support services to help them persist to completion and transition to employment. In most communities, training and supports are fragmented and difficult to access. Often all of the services that together provide sufficient preparation are offered by different organizations, with their own application processes, admission prerequisites, and other eligibility criteria.

GreenWays works with employers to create training and career pathways that prepare low-income adults for green jobs with family-supporting wages and career advancement potential—and particularly women and minorities.

The workforce partnerships that GreenWays creates align literacy instruction, occupational training, support services, career coaching, and other resources that low-skilled jobseekers need to succeed in emerging sectors of the green economy.


20 workforce partnerships each focus on one to two of the sectors in the following cities:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Detroit
  • Los Angeles
  • Milwaukee
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • Washington, DC 

Since launching in 2010, GreenWays has developed and sustained 20 workforce partnerships in 8 major metropolitan labor markets.

Between 2010 and 2013:

  • 2,300+ adults have enrolled in GreenWays programs across 8 cities
  • 1,669 adults have earned a total 5,376 industry-recognized credentials

  • Nearly 1,900 adults have completed their training
  • 1,100 adults have found green-sector jobs or apprenticeships with an average starting pay of $14 per hour
  • GreenWays has doubled the percentage of female participants from 13 to over 26 percent
  • JFF and its local partners have leveraged federal GreenWays funding to raise an additional $2,554 per participant
  • Pink to Green Toolkit

    The Pink to Green Toolkit

    While the emerging green economy promises to add well-paid, career-track jobs, many green jobs are still considered nontraditional occupations for women. The new Pink to Green toolkit, written by Wider Opportunities for Women, to help training programs enlist women as well as men and break through age-old patterns of occupational segregation. Tools are now available that help workforce development providers improve their outreach and recruitment of women; assessment and case management for women; and critical skills training for job readiness release additional tools later this year.

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  • Contextualized Literacy in Green Jobs Training

    Contextualized Literacy in Green Jobs Training

    Millions of adult Americans lack the basic literacy skills necessary to perform everyday tasks requiring basic reading and math. Organizations that provide job training to lower-skilled adults have found they can better prepare workers for advanced occupational training and skill development by integrating the teaching of literacy and numeracy skills into basic occupational training programs. Alexandra Waugh's brief focuses on the model of contextualized instruction, illustrating it with case studies that use two different approaches and curricula for providing contextualized literacy.

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