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.