Green Jobs: Not For Men Only

The bright spot on the economic recovery horizon is green jobs. Community colleges are partnering with Workforce Investment Boards to provide education/training to prepare the workforce for this new sector. But is it so new?

At a conference panel I recently attended, many of the green jobs being discussed were in power plant and construction-related occupations.  Women, who represent less than 10% of workers in these areas, have been trying to break in for years with little progress.  

In 1993, I collected data on the small percentage of women in U.S. Department of Labor School-To-Work sites and testified before Congress.  Wow, here we are 17 years later and green jobs – the crown jewel of job training – is likely to have less than 10% females. 

When asked how many women work in the power plant, the panelist replied, “One very hardy woman.”  We don’t need a lone “hardy” woman.  What we need is a unified program of change, similar to IWITTS’ achievements with the CalWomenTech Project.  We work with eight community college technology programs to develop their capacity to recruit and retain women.  The Project is being highlighted by the National Science Foundation for effective practices.

It’s 2010.  It’s just not acceptable to have women vastly underrepresented in green jobs and IWITTS can help.  I’ll be sharing our proven practices in an upcoming WomenTech Training on Feb 18/19 in the San Francisco Bay Area. We’re offering great group rates, including a  3-for-2 special and discount for groups of 10 or more.   Hope to see you in February!

Funding for Green Jobs Training

 Green jobs are a priority at the U.S. Department of Labor (U.S. DOL). The department believes that strong partnerships “are the key to the country’s success in strengthening not just training programs but also employers and industries” and “that’s why the training initiatives at the Department of Labor frequently involve strong partnerships with community colleges, local businesses, and workforce development boards.”  

In fact, over $305 million in grants were awarded by U.S. DOL in 2009 to support training for green jobs.  And just this month it announced $100 million in Energy Training Partnership Grants and another $150 million in “Pathways Out of Poverty” grants to help disadvantaged populations find employment in energy-efficiency and renewable energy industries.  This month’s grants are part of a larger Recovery Act initiative totaling $500 million — the department expects to release funding for two remaining green grant award categories this year.

Community colleges are already collaborating with workforce development boards to take advantage of grant dollars for green jobs, and there is a good chance that U.S. DOL is looking to partner with more educational institutions in 2010. So keep an eye on the U.S. DOL website for more funding opportunities in green jobs training!