Green economy in the wastewater treatment sector : Jobs , awareness , barriers , and opportunities in selected local governments in South Africa

The green economy (GE) has increasingly gained international focus, with new strategies aimed at restructuring the economy in an environmentally friendly manner. A study was carried out to analyse existing and potential green jobs and identify green qualifications and skills necessary for the develop- ment of the GE. The study was done within the con- text of the role of local governments in the adoption of green economy strategies in the wastewater treat- ment sector, in selected local governments across the northern provinces of South Africa. A descrip- tive survey method with qualitative and quantitative approaches was employed for data collection from twenty-four wastewater treatment plants in eleven local municipalities. The concept of the GE was for- eign to several employees, who could not identify green jobs within most sectors of the economy. Only13.5% of the employees of the surveyed plants were involved in directly green jobs. A further 36% were in green-related jobs while the remaining 50.5% were involved in non-green jobs. Barriers to the creation of green jobs and implementation of green practices were the shortage of employees with green and conventional wastewater treatment skills, and lack of training in green skills. Several opportu- nities for green jobs creation exist, such as the implementation of renewable energy, re-use of treated effluent, and processing of waste sludge into compost. To spur GE growth and create green jobs, the creation of awareness, development of skills and implementation of green technologies should be intensified.