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From Makeup to Making a Difference: Jobs for a Livable Earth

The effects of fires and floods hit close to home for young activists, reshaping their plans for the future

As fires destroy town after town, devastate lives and threaten the life as we know it, young people are pursuing sustainable careers to fight back. Because without a livable earth, how can we expect a future?  

One such person is 29-year-old Julie Boyce, a career training program manager for Student Energy in Calgary. Boyce works with 18 to 30-year-olds looking for entry-level jobs or internships in the energy sector. 

She is building a workforce of young people to keep the earth livable, but this wasn’t always the case. Boyce was initially studying to become a social worker.

a child wearing a hoodie and green bandana over his face holding a yellow sign that reds youll die of old age ill die of climate change
Ottawa climate strike attendee Louka Kavcic, right, sits with his sign in Confederation Park at the Fridays for Future rally | Nicole Dainty | The Charlatan

Her passion for helping families and youths led her toward child welfare. But she changed her trajectory when she realized how serious climate change is.

“So I completely did a 180, and I rigorously pursued climate change, environmentalism, and sustainability,” Boyce told CBC News.

Boyce isn’t alone. Twenty-five-year-old Dolly Cepeda Montufar also made a drastic change from studying chemical engineering at the University of Ottawa.

She wanted a career in cosmetics before she saw a ‘Fridays for Future‘ (FFF) rally in Ottawa. FFF is a youth-led global climate strike movement that began in 2018.

The organization aims to “put moral pressure on policymakers, to make them listen to the scientists, and then to take forceful action to limit global warming.”

“Being in Ottawa, just seeing the different policies that were being enacted and how much climate change is really impacting us…I realized…makeup is fun, but there are enough makeup companies out there,” Cepeda Montufar told CBC News.  

A Greener Workforce Leads To A Greener Future

Cepeda Montufar points out that sustainability has become the foundation for many jobs across different industries. Because of this, sustainability has become a safe choice for young people deciding on a career path. 

According to Deloitte, more than 300 million sustainable jobs can be created by 2050 globally.

Not convinced? From 2015 to 2021, sustainable jobs grew by almost 40 percent.

The five jobs that grew the most between 2016 and 2021 were sustainability manager, wind turbine technician, solar consultant, ecologist, and environmental health and safety specialist. 

a photo of a wind turbine technician equipped with harnesses and a hardhat with wind turbines in the background
According to 2019 estimates, wind turbine technicians can earn as much as $38 per hour in Canada | National Skills Commission

“I think there are enormous opportunities…there are jobs today, but certainly that there are jobs for these young people tomorrow,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, the Federal Minister of Natural Resources, to CBC News.

But it’s not just jobs; schools are seeing a change in program enrollment. The University of Calgary claims that in the past five years, enrollment in programs related to sustainability has increased by seven percent.

On the other hand, programs related to traditional energy, like fossil fuels, saw a 0.5 percent decrease. 

The University of Calgary is introducing a new Sustainable Systems Engineering (SSE) program this fall. The new program comes two years after the university suspended admissions to its oil and gas engineering program due to low enrollment. 

The SSE program sounds like something the students at Crescent Heights High School, located in northwest Calgary, would like! 

A group of students from Crescent Heights recently finished converting a Volkswagen Beetle into an electric vehicle. GreenLearning designed the ambitious project. 

GreenLearning creates free education programs about energy, climate change, and green economy. These programs include hands-on and critical-thinking activities. 

“We have the online simulator tool, and so we’re going to be sharing that with schools and school boards across Canada, and the ministries of education that do the curriculum…,” said GreenLearning executive director Kathy Worobec.

The Older Generation Has A Part To Play

Our young people can’t fight for their future on their own. We need senior figures in business and politics to push the envelope on climate action.

“At the end of the day, if we don’t succeed in reducing carbon emissions in line with what science tells us…young people are the ones who are going to be left holding the bag,” explained Wilkinson. 

Why should the future generation be left to deal with a problem created by past generations?

a photo of a group of young people listening to canadas federal minister of natural resources at a table
Cepeda Montufar sitting beside Jonathan Wilkinson during a discussion with young workers in the energy sector | CBC News

According to a study published in Nature Climate Change, people over 60 accounted for almost a third of carbon pollution in 2015.

The study examined carbon pollution by age across 27 European Union countries, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and Japan.

Now, the effects of climate change are being felt globally. For Cepeda Montufar, who lives in Edmonton, the “fire season” is a constant reminder of climate change. 

She believes Canada could see a growing number of climate refugees, people who have been forced to leave their homes due to the effects of climate change on their environment. 

The reality of climate change also threatened Boyce’s family, who live in Wabamun Lake, when wildfires swept through areas of Parkland County and Yellowhead County. 

“Seeing them go through that, being ready to evacuate at any moment, was really hard. It was really difficult to see how close it was to touching my life, my family’s life,” said Boyce. 

Climate change has caused many young people to rethink their futures, and Boyce is no exception. 

“I used to want to have a family, and I don’t know if that’s something that I can do. I don’t know what world I’m passing off to the future generation,” she said. 

According to a study surveying 5,000 parents across India, Mexico, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States, over half said climate change has changed their perspective on having more children. 

Another study surveyed 600 people aged 27 to 45 and found that over nine in ten respondents were very or extremely concerned about the well-being of their potential future children. 

Climate change isn’t just affecting the planet. It is reshaping the way parents and youths approach their future. Young people shouldn’t have to think twice about having kids. But that’s the reality for many. 


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