By GreenBiz Staff
Published April 05, 2010
OAKLAND, CA — At the age of 55, Bruce Rhodes swapped his restaurant career last year for a job preparing minority youths for green jobs.
Real estate entrepreneur Mark Davis, 51, started his own solar installation company with the help of a federal grant. Meanwhile, Sharon Ridings, 54, left corporate life to lead training and leadership development for the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s workforce.
“The training that I do is very critical to the agency’s work,” Ridings said.
Rhodes, Davis and Ridings are part of a growing wave of baby boomers who could prove critical in the next phase of the development of the green economy. Many, armed with years of valuable experience, are seeking “encore careers” in fields that a deliver a social benefit.
Green jobs, which many see as a bright spot in an otherwise troubled economy, appear to be a natural fit, according to “How Boomers Can Help the Nation Go Green,” a recent report from the Council for Adults and Experiential Learning in Chicago.
“By refocusing their knowledge, skills and experience, boomers can help meet the growing demand for talent in the green economy; play a major role in advancing energy independence and environmental sustainability; and assist in the creation of new jobs for all ages,” the report said.
Between 5.3 million and 8.4 million people between the ages of 44 to 70 have shifted from midlife careers to encore careers, according to the 2008 MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures Encore Career Survey. Half of those surveyed who hadn’t made the move indicated they were interested.
The report identifies eight job positions representing prime career opportunities for baby boomers: weatherization installers and crew leaders, energy auditors, solar contractors, solar installation trainers, outreach workers, and conservation and sustainability consultants and advocates.
“We have focused on areas where need exists and demand is expected to grow for boomers to use their talent and experience to further the sustainability of their communities, the nation and the planet,” the report said. “With their skills and willingness to do good, these individuals are primed to help to stem expected U.S. labor shortages across sectors.”