Would you know a cleantech job if you saw one?

Looking for a job in clean technology?

They must be easy to spot, with more than 850 firms nationally employing more Canadians than the forestry, pharmaceutical, or medical device industries. In fact, there are more Canadian cleantech companies than aerospace (700) or automotive (450) firms.

But would you recognize a clean technology job if you saw one?

For many, the concept of a cleantech job conjures the image of a stereotypical entrepreneur: a dynamic, bold individual, perhaps even quirky, like Steve Jobs. While that may be true of many cleantech entrepreneurs—you need those characteristics when you’re inventing disruptive technologies to help solve an issue like climate change—there are far more jobs in the mix.

Clean technology is no different from any other product or service. It requires raw materials and manufacturing processes to create innovative solutions. It takes agricultural and forestry inputs to produce biofuels, while minerals mined from the earth go into making the metals we use in solar panels, energy storage systems and more. Strip away the power source, and an EV is still a car.

Cleantech companies exist to commercialize ideas or products. They need accountants, engineers, administrative professionals, CEOs and lawyers just as any other business would.

Part of the solution is to enable more Canadians to see, interact with, and benefit from our country’s cleantech products and services as part of their daily lives. Public policymakers can play a meaningful role in this, and reap economic and environmental benefits from supporting the transition to clean growth. The best way to do that is by easing the barriers to adoption, so Canadians can see the solar panels on the roof of their office building, the EV in their driveway, and the microgrid powering their home. Canada can accomplish this through smart spending on infrastructure—putting dollars toward projects that support innovation and putting clean technology solutions into practice.

Because there’s one thing we know for certain—when demand for a product or service increases, so too do the jobs and economic activity required to meet that demand. That’s something we can agree is good for all Canadians.

This editorial originally appeared in the 2017 Canadian Clean Technology Industry Report, published by Analytica Advisors

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