Green Jobs Training Programs Short Of Goals

By | October 4, 2011

Green proponents expound: Green careers may hold the key to energy independence, so a trained and knowledgeable green workforce is important. Green training programs are essential to a green economy. So, with that concept in mind, let’s see just how many green jobs training programs are available, and how well green jobs training programs are doing.

Green Jobs Training Programs

The United States Renewable Energy Programs offers a "one stop" source for green jobs, green training, schools that offer green programs of study, and Renewable Energy Programs for (almost) every country in the western hemisphere above the equator. The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is one such training program. The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) is another source of green training. The state of California has gotten in on green jobs training with the Clean Energy Workforce Training Program (CEWTP). Did you know that there is even a standard that the U.S. Green Building Council has developed: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)?

Green Jobs Training Programs Grants

Speaking in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced the availability of grants designed to prepare people for jobs in energy efficiency or renewable energy industries. Grant competitions opened today for $500 million in Recovery Act funds for training programs that will help retool the U.S. workforce for a clean energy economy. "This is a huge victory," Green for All founder Van Jones said in interviews and in his blog in February when Congress passed the final version of the Recovery Act. BTW, that is the same Van Jones who was Obama’s green jobs czar and a self-proclaimed communist. Can anyone say "conflict of interest?"

The Department of Labor

The Department of Labor (DOL) has some rather disturbing facts about green jobs training programs, which were also recipients of large amounts of stimulus money.

The DOL, Employment and Training Administration (ETA), awarded money under different types of competitive grant programs to (1) train and prepare individuals for careers in "green jobs," and (2) collect, analyze, and disseminate labor market information. Of the $500 million provided, ETA retained $9.9 million for services such as program administration and technical assistance, and awarded $490.1 million as follows: $435.4 million for three training programs, $48.9 million for labor market information, and $5.8 million to develop capacity for training programs. Grantees have reported expending $162.8 million (33 percent) of the amounts awarded, with about 73 percent of the grant time having elapsed. As of June 30, 2011, $327.3 million remained unexpended. The rate of training grant expenditures for the most recent period has decreased.

Did you get that? $435.4 million for three training programs, of which $327.3 million remain unexpended. Our tax dollars at work. (yes, sarcasm turned to max setting)

ETA has reported limited success for serving and placing workers. Grantees have reported serving 52,762 (42 percent) of the targeted 124,893 participants, reported placing 8,035 participants (10 percent) into employment out of the target of 79,854 participants, with 61 percent of training grant periods having elapsed.

"Grantees have expressed concerns that jobs have not materialized and that job placements have been fewer than expected for this point in the grant program," said Assistant Inspector General Elliott Lewis.

How Are Green Jobs Training Programs Doing and How Are Trainees Doing?

A DOL report said the low placement rate of green jobs trainees makes it unlikely the program will meet the goal of placing nearly 80,000 workers in careers in energy efficiency or renewable energy by 2013. $500 million for green jobs training was part of the $787 billion stimulus act passed in 2009. Although the money was awarded in a series of grants in 2009 and 2010, only one-third has actually been spent. Another problem the report highlighted is that workers who completed training and were placed in green jobs have had trouble retaining their posts. Of the 8,035 workers placed, only 1,336 trainees, 2 percent of the overall target, have held those jobs for at least six months. But DOL officials insisted that green jobs are part of a future wave of growing employment needs and that it would be a mistake not to invest in training workers for those jobs.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said the report "paints a pretty bleak picture of the program’s effectiveness in job creation." He continued, "It’s hard to see how leaving $300 million in unused funding for the program in the hands of the Labor Department benefits either the taxpayers or the unemployed."

 

But that’s just my opinion.

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