Building the Workforce of Today and Tomorrow

While jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and mining have dwindled, new opportunities supporting the “green economy” have grown. This module explains how supporting green jobs can help your community thrive.

Read the video transcript

In this topic you will learn

  1. What is the green economy, and how can it help my community?

  2. How do I attract and retain skilled workers, new residents and businesses?

  3. What are the benefits of a diverse workforce?



K-12 education and targeted training programs are essential in developing a workforce tied to the green economy. Enhancing both formal and informal education about the watershed builds a foundation for greater understanding of natural systems and improved stewardship. It also creates a pipeline of scientists, managers and other members of a dynamic and innovative workforce.

A textbook, indicating education.

Economic Development

While jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and mining have dwindled, new opportunities supporting the green economy have grown. Supporting green jobs can help communities thrive. The green economy in the U.S. is estimated to be worth $1.3 trillion annually, employing nearly 9.5 million workers.

A dollar sign, indicating economic development.

Public Health and Safety

Through its Brownfields Training Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides environmental safety and cleanup training to residents of brownfields-impacted communities seeking new skills and opportunities. New trainees can directly reduce the public health threat that brownfields pose.

A heart and a plus sign, indicating public health and safety.

Infrastructure Maintenance and Finance

Green infrastructure, or nature-based solutions that use soil and vegetation to slow the flow of stormwater runoff, requires many skills to design, build and maintain. This work requires landscape architects, engineers, pipelayers, pavers, groundskeepers and more. Regular inspection and maintenance will ensure your community’s rain gardens, bioswales and forest buffers are operating properly and contributing benefits to your community.

A house, indicating infrastructure.

Case Studies You'll Find Inside

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

Training Programs Build a Skilled Workforce

Maintaining the 1,200+ green infrastructure installations across the District of Columbia’s public spaces will require a skilled workforce. Training programs for underemployed and unemployed residents, such as Solar for All, connect the District’s goals for cleaner energy and improved stormwater management with economic mobility for residents.

A group of people sit in chairs, listening to a conference speaker. (Envato Elements)

Here's How You Can Help

An icon of a green tree and blue tree overlapping, indicating tree canopy. Create hands-on learning opportunities for the installation and maintenance of best management practices that meet local needs.
An icon of a blue and a green hand mid-handshake, indicating collaboration. Contract with local workforce development programs for the installation and maintenance of green infrastructure.
An icon of a blue person with a green prize ribbon pinned to their chest, indicating professional certification. Require publicly funded green infrastructure to be installed and maintained by trained and certified contractors.
An icon of a closed blue book with a green tree in the bottom right corner, indicating environmental rules, policies or learning opportunities. Invest in your future workforce by funding Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, with a focus on under-resourced communities.

Learn More About This Topic


Learn about the nation’s first state-sponsored institution providing continuing education and executive training programs designed to help state and local government officials, infrastructure executives and business leaders implement sound climate change initiatives.


Meet a formerly incarcerated individual who, thanks to training from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, found a new career as an arborist waiting for him on his release from prison.


Explore teaching resources, action projects, field experiences and funding opportunities designed to build environmental literacy across the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

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