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The Challenges of Finding a Green Job

09/11/2012 07:43 EDT | Updated 11/14/2012 05:12 EST
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ROEDGEN, GERMANY - AUGUST 20: A wind turbine at sunset is pictured on August 20, 2010 in Roedgen near Bitterfeld, Germany. Germany is investing heavily in renewable energy production, including wind power and solar, and is seeking to produce 30% of its electricity nationwide with renewables by 2020. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

Are you looking for a green job? There's never been a better time. As awareness about climate change, pollution and other environmental issues grows, more people are passionate about making sustainability their life's work -- the question is, what green jobs are out there?

When people hear "green jobs," they think of scientists or environmental organizations. In reality, the green job market has expanded throughout every sector, opening up a wealth of opportunities.

It took me a while to figure out where I fit in. When I was working towards my degree in environmental studies, I thought, "Hey, by the time I graduate, there will be a job for me in the new green economy." Little did I know that one year before I finished, the economy would go into a recession. Banks were collapsing, people were defaulting on mortgages in the U.S., currency values were shrinking -- and this was a time when Greece was flagged as only a "concern." Nonetheless, after snatching my diploma from the dean's hand, I was determined to pound the pavement and find my dream green job.

At first, I came up empty and I worried that I'd have to compromise my interest in sustainability to find work. But, a couple of years later, I became a program director at Green Living Enterprises, one of the first companies in Canada to provide strategy, branding and marketing communications services with a focus on the environment and corporate social responsibility. Among other initiatives, it runs the Green Living Show, which takes place every spring in Toronto. The show is designed to connect conscientious consumers to hundreds of sustainable businesses.

I was thrilled to discover that I could combine my two main passions -- marketing and sustainable business -- into one career. I also realized it wasn't just me and a handful of colleagues who were interested in working in the green economy, but also lots of young people. In fact, 56 per cent of Canadian teens are interested in careers related to the environment but, just like me a few years ago, they don't know their range of options; 88 per cent want more access to information about green jobs.

I completely empathize, and that's why I'm excited about the Green Jobs Forum, coming up September 17 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Created by Green Living Enterprises, the forum is an excellent opportunity for young people to hear and meet experts from a variety of sectors, including clean energy and water technology; green building and energy managment; agri-food and horticulture; business and finance; urban planning and transportation; health and education; environmental protection; and entrepreneurship and innovation. And, the admission is just the right price for students and job seekers: it's free!

"The Green Jobs Forum offers an amazing chance to learn about the spectrum of green career options available today," says Laurie Simmonds, CEO of Green Living Enterprises. "We have a stellar lineup of 50 business leaders running all day on eight stages, plus a jobs pavilion to connect organizations and candidates to these exciting opportunities."

There's no question about it: green careers are hot. The key is finding the right fit for your skills and passions -- your dream green job might be one that you haven't even heard of yet.