Green Training is a Smart Investment in the American Workforce

A number of recent news stories have hit the Labor Department’s green jobs training programs pretty hard. The attention stems from a recent Inspector General report, which asked some tough questions of the program based on early performance numbers from last June. I appreciate the difficult work of the IG, and also appreciate that a response to the findings from the Employment and Training Administration is included within the report. In both the report and the media coverage, the underlying question seems to be “Are they worth it?” For me, the answer is a simple yes, and to help explain why I wanted to share a few numbers that aren’t getting as much attention as they should:

52,762 – People who have entered Green training programs as of June

124,943 – People who will participate throughout the life of the grants

26,142 – People who have completed a Green training program as of June

52% – Percentage of trainees who were unemployed when they entered the program who had already found a job as of June

10,712– Trainees already working in an industry where green skills are important and upgrading their skills to remain competitive.

22,375 – Workers who completed training and received an industry recognized credential as of June.

30% – The difference in employment rates between unemployed people who trained for green occupations through Workforce Investment Act programs, and those who did not receive training.

$1000 – Average difference in six-month earnings between those that trained in green and non-green occupations through Workforce Investment Act programs.

These were smart investments that are preparing Americans for the clean energy jobs driving our 21st Century economy, and projects are still underway. The “oldest” grants were announced at the end of 2009, some were only announced three months ago. Many of the programs will not be finished until 2013.

Our grants consist of several phases, including an initial start-up period when grantees hire instructors, develop a curriculum, and otherwise set up shop. As a part of this process, we required grantees to involve local employers – from utilities to manufacturers to contractors — as partners to ensure that grants met the local workforce needs. The grantees are showing great progress, the numbers are getting better each quarter, and that’s just what we expect to continue. The most recent quarterly data show that the number of people that found a job nearly doubled since the prior quarterly report.

These grants are about helping people like Karl Mier, a Navy veteran who lost his job with a medical equipment company. Through a DOL funded green training program in St. Louis, Karl learned about waste management techniques, recycling options, materials collection processes and health and safety practices. The program connected him with interested employers, and in about two months he was hired by a local company to work on the production line recycling textiles into stuffing.

These grants are about helping people like Michelle Long, who was looking for help after losing her accounting job. Thanks to a grant program in Bridgeport, CT, Michelle learned about energy efficiency, safety rules, and lead and asbestos abatement, and earned 10 certificates. Less than a month later, she was hired as a service manager by a local building and development company that conducts home energy audits.

These grants have already helped thousands of people. And they continue to help more people every day. They help prepare our workforce for growing industries. They have helped Karl and Michelle–and thousands more just like them–find hope and find jobs. They’re worth it.

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Comments (10)

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  1. My spouse’s employer has sent him for Green Energy training and certification in the field of Electrical Construction. Preserving our planet…one green step at a time!

  2. gfr@IU says:

    I understand that the work of the IG can be tough for agencies to get behind– after all, by definition it’s the IG’s job to work within an agency to find flaws with the operations and programs. While I personally support the green jobs training program, I think that much of the public perceives (wrongfully) that “green” efforts are unnecessary/frivolous and thus, a waste of tax dollars and appropriations when the economy is so low and unemployment so high. This must be taken into consideration when examining the IG’s questions. Also, in a society where the media presents information in terms of “millions” and “billions” (and regarding the national debt, “trillions”), it’s hard to get behind the noticeably smaller numbers of the green jobs program ( example: only “tens of thousands” have completed a program). As a result, I don’t think that the mere presentation of these numbers alone is sufficient to answer the questions presented in the IG’s report. Even though IG’s are an inconvenience to agencies, they serve the important purpose of making sure that the organization is functioning at its highest level of effectiveness, which I don’t think the green jobs training program has proved yet. I would like to see the green jobs training program continue to be tracked, with further judgments about its success to follow later.

  3. Party Bus says:

    First I have even heard about this green jobs training initiative. Seems like a very cool idea to me… Hope it continues to progress.

  4. Green Training isnt only a smart investment in the American Workforce, its a good example for future pretensions worldwide. Hopefully the green training programm will be established in many other countries as well. I personally like the idea behind it!

    Regards Lisa

  5. Investment in green training is smart and important and the future of the world, not only america, depends on green development. Other countries should follow the lead of america in creating more green collar jobs.

  6. Green jobs and green technologies are very much needed and I am in favor of doing everything we can to invest in America’s future. We just need to make sure there is accountability and that the money is well spent. It has to be given to programs and companies with a proven track record and due diligence on the part of government.

  7. Thank you for sharing excellent information. Your web-site is very cool. I am impressed by the details that you have on this website. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for extra articles.

  8. Jerry Schott says:

    Encouraging the growth of Green industries/ jobs is an appropriate role for the Department of Labor. Keep up the great work!

  9. The figures given are really encouraging. We should hope to continue with the effort.This is the best possible way to save our planet and the people.

  10. Peter Hunt says:

    It is the best investment in green training. It hepls to encourage the people about recycling and to keep environment healthy. As well as it is good way to earn good revenue.

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