The greening of the American economy has been a long-standing priority for the Obama Administration. In his state of the union address, the President renewed his commitment to clean energy technology by calling for massive investments in 21st century infrastructure and proposing that 80% of electricity come from clean energy sources by 2035.
This administration has launched unprecedented initiatives to build this workforce. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included $500 million for research and job training for careers in energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. On the training front, the Labor Department is preparing workers for meaningful careers in green industries. We are providing grants to states, non-profit organizations, and public-private partnerships. These funds and our grantees help provide workers the skills they need to make buildings more energy efficient, vehicles more fuel efficient, and manufacturing processes better for the environment. These workers will also be able to help harness renewable energy.
Our Pathways out Of Poverty grants offer our neediest citizens training that can open doors to sustainable employment in various green sectors. They target disadvantaged populations in areas struggling with high rates of poverty. In addition, we have launched a number of other special programs targeted to women, veterans, youth, and other underrepresented workers. These initiatives are making a difference in the lives and livelihoods of underserved communities.
Our future – and that of our children – depends not only on creating jobs, but protecting our planet as well. To succeed, we must continue to work together, and engage governments, institutions and individuals on the international stage. We will need to act boldly and wisely, providing the right mix of incentives, investments, and training. It will take commitment, openness, and willingness to learn from the experiences of others. To achieve our common vision of clean and sustainable growth and prosperity, all of us will need to help one another.
Sandra Polaski is Deputy Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs