Americans Back Sustainable Tech Growth, But Want More Training, Education and Incentives

MEDC Communications

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

  • A recent national survey by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation indicates strong support for clean energy innovations and corresponding workforce development solutions
  • Most want to see these technologies developed in the U.S., and would be willing to pay more for domestically made products and services
  • A knowledge gap between generations may be fueling skepticism from Gen X and Baby Boomers


LANSING, Mich. -- Despite recent reports of waning demand for electric vehicles, and job cuts in renewable sectors like wind energy, a new survey found a strong demand among Americans for advancements in sustainable technologies and a workforce equipped to implement them.

A recent survey conducted by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) showed the public has a clear desire for the adoption of new clean technologies, as well as business incentives, training opportunities and robust career pathways to support this growing sector.

“The US accounts for more than 11% of global CO2 emissions with only about 4% of the world population. Reducing that share is increasingly a priority of federal and state governments, corporations, and individuals,” said Jake Foose, Research Analyst for Guidehouse Insights. “The recent survey data from the MEDC showcases a strong public desire to not only embrace solutions that fight climate change, but also calls for programs and incentives to spur adoption.”


Survey indicates importance of sustainable technology and the jobs that enable it

While some climate-driven efforts can be polarizing issues, MEDC’s survey, which polled a sample of 1,000 U.S. adults, revealed significant support for investments in sustainable technologies as a whole.

71% of people believe that major investments in things like sustainable tech, clean energy and EV infrastructure will ultimately pay off. In fact, 62% of survey respondents agreed that it’s important to continue developing clean energy tech. In addition, 71% of respondents indicated their communities need to be more open to growth in sustainable sectors, and provide new opportunities for workers.

“At the crux of any widespread transformation like electrification, is a workforce that’s able to adapt to the rapidly shifting needs of our communities,” said Foose. “Technology sectors that have been neglected in the US economy can be mobilized to meet these workforce needs—for example, by creating training programs that enable new workers to enter these fields. These programs are essential to providing a steady pipeline of skilled workers”.

The vast majority of survey respondents (88%) agreed that companies won’t survive without providing training to employees working with sustainable technologies. Most respondents (67%) also consider providing training programs as the top way for states to encourage job growth.

However, respondents recognized that clean energy solutions need the support of government agencies to come to fruition -- 86% said that clean energy solutions adoption won’t happen without stronger government incentives for businesses.


Where it’s made matters

Among survey respondents there’s an expectation that sustainable technologies are designed and manufactured here in the U.S. In fact, 87% of respondents said they were more willing to pay for technology designed and made in the U.S.

However, confidence in the U.S. workforce’s ability to produce this technology is split. More than half of Americans believe it’s difficult for the U.S. workforce to compete against skilled workers from other countries.

Michigan is one state driven to shift this perception, by encouraging and incentivizing for more clean technology manufacturing within its borders.

“With its industrial might and abundant natural resources, Michigan is strategically positioned to lead the fight against the climate crisis. We have the capacity to invent and manufacture what’s required to win, but we’ll need homegrown talent from across our state and from across the country to get the job done,” said Hilary Doe, Chief Growth & Marketing Officer for the State of Michigan. “If you want to do purpose driven work to fight the climate crisis, come to Michigan because this is the front line. Through the state’s comprehensive training programs and strategic initiatives like the MI Healthy Climate Plan, we are ensuring that our workforce is not only prepared for the jobs of tomorrow but is also instrumental in shaping them.”


Public acknowledges the benefits and barriers of electric vehicles

EVs are a prime example of a solution that’s critical to decarbonization, while drawing a multitude of opinions and levels of understanding. Transportation accounts for 28% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, with 58% of that total attributed to light duty vehicles. Reducing the approximately 15 million new light duty vehicles purchased every year represents one of the fastest and most straightforward ways to reduce emissions.

This shift toward electric mobility is not only a priority for environmental policy but also a major focus for economic innovation across the country. Survey results indicated consumers’ interest in electrification – with 81% of respondents saying they would consider buying an EV at some point – but barriers to adoption still exist that a skilled workforce could help address:

  • Americans cite cleaner air (74%), lower carbon footprints (61%), and health benefits for communities (43%) as top benefits of electric transportation. Other benefits include quieter (43%) and safer roads (24%).
  • Nationwide, the top barrier for widespread adoption of EVs is difficulty finding charging stations (66%) and the cost to buy EVs (65%).
  • The top things that would make the nation consider buying an EV include lower prices (58%), more access to charging stations (50%), and improvements to range (47%).

Skepticism over EVs could be the result of a lack of knowledge. A surprising 38% of Americans say they are not familiar with EVs.


Expectations for sustainable tech vary across generations

U.S. consumers are considering sustainable technologies and the potential impact they can have on their day-to-day lives. While survey data indicates generally positive sentiment toward sustainable, clean energy solutions, opinions vary between different generations of consumers.

Across generations, a majority of people think that major purchases on sustainable projects pay off in the long run -- but Gen Z and Millennials are much more likely to believe this (78% and 81% respectively) compared to Baby Boomers (56%).

One area that is generally agreed upon across generations is that the adoption of clean energy solutions won’t happen without stronger incentives for businesses from the government. Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers all had at least 84% of their sample agreeing with that statement. In addition, all generations agree that companies won't survive without providing training to employees to work with sustainable technologies.

When it comes to EVs specifically, Gen Z (74%) and Millennials (70%) are more likely to be familiar with EVs and their benefits, compared to Gen X (61%) or Baby Boomers (53%). The lack of familiarity among older generations could be why 73% of Boomers and 64% of Gen X don’t trust most claims about EVs, compared to just 50% of Gen Z. Nearly half of Millennials (48%) would consider buying an EV in the next five years, compared to just 15% of Boomers.


Michigan sets its sights on a sustainable future

A majority of Michigan residents (68%) believe that major purchases of sustainable products pay off in the long run, a number that rises to 85% among Gen Z Michiganders. Recognizing the positive impacts that sustainable technologies have on both its economy and communities, Michigan is strategically positioning itself as a leader in sustainable innovation. By focusing on the right people, policies and training programs, Michigan is laying the groundwork for a sustainable future.

At the heart of Michigan's environmental and economic strategy is the MI Healthy Climate Plan. This comprehensive initiative, developed in response to global climate challenges, lays a pathway for the state to reach 100% carbon neutrality by 2050. The plan encompasses a broad range of strategic objectives designed to reduce carbon emissions, foster clean energy technologies, and create sustainable job opportunities across the state.


For a more detailed look at Michigan’s sustainability impact, download MEDC’s Impact Report and "Economic Opportunities of Transportation Electrification" whitepaper.


Survey Methodological Notes

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research ( among 1,000 nationally representative US adults ages 18+ and an oversample to 250 Michigan respondents, between March 8th and March 12th, 2024, using an email invitation and an online survey. Data has been weighted to ensure an accurate representation of the audiences.


About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.