Can Green Business Talent Avoid the Gig Economy?

By Dan Smolen

Greetings from Metro D.C. where we’ve transitioned to…early August. But that is okay; our perennial flowers—including Milkweed—are blooming nicely. And, we have lots of happy honey bees and a few butterflies stopping by for lunch.


Sen. Mark Warner
Sen. Mark Warner

We are pleased too for our upcoming Monday, June 22nd networking and empowerment event with Leaders in Energy—Evolving Bioeconomy & Renewable Fuels—6-8 pm at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The event moderator is Bill Brandon, a Leaders member and a noted expert on biofuels and biomaterials. Joining Bill on the dais will be these industry experts: Erick Lutt, Director for Policy for the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s Industrial and Environmental Section; Kristen Johnson, Sustainability Technology Manager with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office, and; Scott Sklar, Principal of The Stella Group, Ltd. I will tee up the evening’s discussion with a brief overview of bioeconomy career paths and opportunities. We hope to see lots of ambitious careerists there. For tickets, do sign up here. But do so soon as we tend to fill up the room, quickly.

For reasons of financial necessity, many careerists eager to pivot into the New Green Economy cover their cash flow requirements working multiple jobs or contract (1099) assignments. And earlier this month our friend, U.S. Senator Mark Warner, took to the airwaves to voice his deep concern for these professional talent who strive to make ends meet in the Gig Economy.

According to Warner, Gig Economy workers include professionals laid off mid-career who are having difficulty finding financially sustainable full-time work, low-income workers used to gathering hours across multiple jobs or gigs, and entry-level talent from the Millennial Generation. It is the Millennial Generation’s inability to escape gig employment that means this 90-million member cohort is not investing in real estate (such as starter homes) as quickly or in comparable numbers as the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who preceded them. And that is a significant problem for scaling the workforce and stabilizing the economy.

Quoted in USA Today, Warner says of Millennials:

[This whole generation] is more willing to see disruptive change; that’s good news. They’re more tolerant; that’s good news. They’re not as prejudiced. So all those are good things. But they clearly don’t have an expectation they’re going to work in one firm forever. They think they’re going to cobble together a series of different opportunities.

The cobbling together of employment opportunities? That’s not good news.

We ambassadors to great and purposeful careers in the New Green Economy owe Millennials, and all others in the workforce, their pathways to success.We believe that by guiding our talent to proper accreditation, training, and experience, they can focus their energies and passions on one job that allows them to do well (earn a good living) but also do good (support their company’s financial success, but also help people and preserve the planet).

The Gig Economy is a necessary bridge for talent to gain footing and cover their immediate financial obligations. But the New Green Economy is where many of these same careerists are eager to go, grow, and succeed.

Let’s help all who are willing to work hard in our growing space, including the biofuels and materials sector, to work hard, succeed, and live their dreams. We hope to see you in D.C. at the Leaders in Energy event on Monday, June 22nd, 2015.

And remember: our best days lie ahead.

DAN SMOLEN is author of Tailoring the Green Suit: Empowering Yourself for an Executive Career in the New Green Economy. He is Chief Talent Officer for the green business professional community, Leaders in Energy, and the Managing Director of The Green Suits, LLC, which provides talent recruitment, workforce planning, and success management to green business and social good enterprises. Industry specialization includes:

  • Clean Energy & Cleantech
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Resource Sustainability & Recycling
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Conventional companies purposed to “go green”

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