Clean Energy Is Creating Millions of Jobs for Gen Z – CNET

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The US could see as many as 5 million new clean energy jobs created over the next decade.

That’s according to a report from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. And that’s especially great news for Gen Z — the generation currently aged about 12 to 27 — as they enter the workforce and advance their careers.

“Young people are really excited about this field,” said Andrés Henríquez, director of STEM education and strategy at the Education Development Center.

With climate change becoming more of a lived reality for everyone, and young adults feeling more motivated than ever to do something about it, careers in climate tech and clean energy could be the perfect fit for Gen Z.

Here’s what to know about how this career field is growing, and how you can find your place in it.

The clean energy industry is expanding rapidly

Renewable energy is growing fast, thanks in part to federal incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022. More than half of the electricity generation added to the grid in the US was solar power in 2023. It’s not all solar: The US Energy Information Administration reported in February that while solar accounted for 58% of planned capacity additions in 2024, another 23% would be battery storage and 13% would be wind. 

That’s just in electricity generation. There are also booming industries around electric vehicles and hydrogen production. All of this requires workers.

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Those millions of new jobs I mentioned? They’re already generating a huge need for qualified Americans to fill all types of roles.

“This is a growing sector. We see that the demand is outstripping the supply side, probably by two to one,” Henríquez said. “The demand is great, and the supply of workers is not so great.”

That demand exists across a wide range of job types.

Henríquez notes that many of them — especially for tradespeople like electricians — don’t require a four-year degree, but still offer generous pay and benefits.

All types of skillsets are needed in the clean energy industry, according to Luisa Chew, director of human resources at Modern Hydrogen. “One of the pros of working in a climate, renewable tech company or industry is that the companies are very interdisciplinary,” she said.

At Modern Hydrogen, for example, employees include engineers, scientists, welders and fabricators, but also accountants, salespeople and HR specialists like Chew. “I was able to find my niche. There’s definitely niches for everyone,” she said.

Why the industry could be a great fit for Gen Z 

While some people see a job as nothing more than a paycheck, young employees often want to make a positive impact through their work.

“The perception that the older generation screwed things up” leads many members of Gen Z to want to clean up the mess, said Henríquez, a member of the baby-boom generation. “Young people are very passionate about this,” he said.

Chew also notices this in her work hiring employees at Modern Hydrogen. She hires people from all generations, but said the Gen Z applicants are some of the most interested in the mission of the company and how their work will make a difference. “That’s definitely a very popular topic” in interviews, Chew said.

Even after they are hired, Chew said that Gen Z employees often want updates about the company’s impact, which has motivated Modern Hydrogen to double down on communicating that to employees.

At the end of the day, Gen Z’s deep passion for climate action is a natural fit for many clean energy companies. It’s actually a win-win: Clean energy firms want passionate employees, and Gen Zers want to contribute to climate solutions. 

And because so many people join these companies for similar reasons, Chew said it contributes to an inspiring workplace culture of many different people all working toward a larger goal.

How Gen Z can navigate the field successfully

While Gen Z can find a lot of fulfillment in the clean energy industry, that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges to navigating the workplace, like there are in any field.

Chew and Henríquez have some advice for members of Gen Z who are looking to land a job in the field:

  • Get started in the field through (paid) internships. This can help you understand what type of role and company you might enjoy.
  • Check out job boards tailored to the climate industry. Boards like this one are a great place to start figuring out what roles are available.
  • Make sure to research each position and company. “When you’re applying for roles, take the time to really understand the company,” Chew said. It can make you stand out from the crowd of other qualified candidates.
  • Don’t count yourself out. Even if you’re not an environmental scientist, you can still find a place in the industry. “We need a whole lot of young people to be really interested in this. They need to be climate curious, they need not be climate experts,” Henríquez said.

There’s also no rush: This growth in climate jobs is projected to last for many years, which means you’ll have many chances to jump on board. “It’s an enormous opportunity for lots of young people to enter this field,” Henríquez said.

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