New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a press release on September 4, announcing $15 million to help promote clean energy workforce development and training programs at various campuses of the State University of New York (SUNY). Some of the programs awarded funding include: a “Solar Ready Vets” program on site at Fort Drum to train veterans transitioning to civilian life in renewable energy ; updates including electrical/solar photovotaic information for continuing education curricula for architects, engineers, and building and code inspectors at Erie Community College; development of a wind operations technician training program at the Off-Shore Energy Center of SUNY Maritime . These initiatives are part of the Clean Climate Careers Initiative, announced in June 2017, which aims to create 40,000 new, good-paying clean energy jobs by 2020. The Clean Climate Careers Initiative partners the state government with Cornell University’s Workers’ Institute, as well as Climate Jobs NY , a labour union coalition led by the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, New York’s Central Labor Council, and the Service Employees International Union.
According to the latest available report from the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) in Q12018, 3,919 New Yorkers had been trained in a range of energy efficiency and renewable energy courses, through the Green Jobs – Green New York Act (2009). The funding program ended in December 2016, although one training program still continues. The New York Clean Energy Industry Report for 2017 reported that there were 146,000 clean energy jobs in New York State by December 2016 – 110,000 of those in energy efficiency roles.
Electric vehicles: Governor Cuomo issued another press release on September 5, announcing that the state will utilize $127.7 million received from the 2016 Volkswagen diesel emissions settlement to increase the number of electric and clean vehicles, by reducing the cost of new transit and school buses, trucks, and other vehicles, as well as supporting electric vehicle charging equipment. The new proposals are detailed in the NYS Beneficiary Mitigation Plan. The existing Charge NY program to incentivize electric vehicle adoption is credited with a 67 percent increase in ev’s sold in New York state between 2016 to 2017.
Through the Local Government Lens: Developing the Energy Efficiency Workforce, is a report released on June 13 by the American Council for an Energy- Efficient Economy (ACEEE). It cites data from the 2018 U.S. Energy & Employment Report, which reported that there are 2.25 million efficiency jobs in the U.S. currently – 1.27 million of which are in the construction trades, followed by 450,000 in professional and business services. The report dives more deeply into the demographics and characteristics of the energy efficiency workforce, and discusses the unique challenges of workforce development policies – the need to replace a retiring workforce, funding uncertainty for job creation and infrastructure, a need to encourage diversity, and a complex set of stakeholders, given that there is no single educational or skills path for efficiency workers. The report includes unions and union-led training in its discussion of stakeholders and in its recommended strategies for workforce development policies.
Case studies with various approaches are presented from across the U.S., with the sole Canadian example of Vancouver, B.C. For example: Boston, where training in energy building management is provided to city and utility workers at local community colleges; New Orleans, where the city coordinates with U.S. Green Building Council, local community colleges, the New Orleans Office of Supplier Diversity, and the Urban League of Louisiana to provide efficiency-related training to low-income community members and minority- and women-owned businesses; and Los Angeles, which has established a Cleantech Incubator to attract new businesses and private-sector investment to the city. Other U.S. cities discussed are New York City, Orlando Florida, and Columbus Ohio.
Vancouver, B.C. launched several initiatives to teach skills required to build in accordance with its Zero Emissions Building Plan, approved in 2016. The city plans to subsidize training for builders and developers to learn more about passive house design standards, technical building requirements, economic and energy impacts, and energy modeling tools. Vancouver will also contribute funds to the Zero Emissions Building Centre of Excellence, a nonprofit-run collaborative platform that will compile and disseminate zero-emission building educational resources to the local building industry.
A blog summarizes the report; it is available free from this link, registration is required.
In its fourth annual report, Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017 , the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) presents statistics on renewable energy employment, both by technology and in selected countries. For this 2017 edition, it includes statistics for large-scale hydropower, and also the results for a workplace survey in the Middle East and North Africa on barriers to women in clean energy labour markets. The worldwide statistics show that renewable energy employed 9.8 million people in 2016 – a 1.1% increase over 2015. Solar photovoltaic (PV) power was the largest employer, with 3.1 million jobs (an increase of 12% from 2015); global wind employed 1.2 million people (an increase of 7%); large hydro employed 1.5 million people, with around 60% of those in operation and maintenance. However, given that Canada is the world’s 2nd biggest hydropower producer (after China), and that Canada is not included in the IRENA numbers, this figure could be questioned. China, Brazil, the United States, India, Japan and Germany accounted for most of the renewable energy jobs.
In general, IRENA reports that the rate of for renewable job growth slowed down in 2015 and 2016, with the exception of the solar PV and wind categories, which have more than doubled since 2012. In contrast, employment in solar heating and cooling and large hydropower has declined. Nevertheless, IRENA predicts that “the number of people working in the renewables sector could reach 24 million by 2030, more than offsetting fossil-fuel job losses and becoming a major economic driver around the world”. It also notes that ”significant efforts in training and education is needed to provide the labour market with the required skills.”
The gender discrimination survey of labour markets in the Middle East and North Africa was conducted jointly by IRENA, the Clean Energy Business Council (CEBC) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). The survey found that discrimination seems less pronounced in renewable energy employment than in the energy sector at large, but “challenges remain for women in regard to employment and promotion.”
The 28th Constitutional Convention of the Canadian Labour Congress was held in Toronto from May 8 to 12, 2017 under the theme “Together for a Fair Future”. The agenda was packed – including equity issues, younger workers, putting an end to precarious work, and the fight to implement a $15 minimum wage. Executive officers were elected, and Hassan Yussuff was acclaimed as President for a second mandate – all serving from 2017 to 2020. On May 10th, the Convention addressed the issue of climate change, and heard from a Green Jobs Panel, consisting of Sharan Burrow of the ITUC, Sheila Watt-Cloutier from Inuit Circumpolar Council, Matt Wayland of the IBEW, and Patrick Rondeau of the FTQ, with Rick Smith of the Broadbent Institute moderating. Although no documents have been posted to the CLC website yet, a Unifor press release states: ” … As one of the greatest challenges facing workers in Canada the Convention adopted a plan, outlined in the Green Jobs for a Fair Future policy, to guide the country through a necessary just transition to a green economy. Unifor’s delegation voted overwhelmingly to support the position paper and delegates pledged to take action for just transition…The policy paper calls on the CLC to lobby and work towards green jobs in home and building retrofits, expand public transit, ensure responsible resource development, and at the core, just transition for workers whose lives are already dramatically changed by climate change.”
Updated on May 29: By permission of the CLC, the 20-page policy statement is available here at the ACW Digital Library. It lays out detailed proposals and establishes a Climate Change Task Force to carry the initiatives forward until 2020, with extensive lobbying for policy changes at the federal government level. Proposals include expansion of renewable energy, building retrofits, expanded transportation and transit infrastructure, and labour market policies to promote a Just Transition for workers and communities who are affected by the shift from oil and gas to clean energy. The document also announces an initiative for the CLC and local labour councils to create and train a network of environmental representatives at the workplace level, based on the occupational health and safety model.
Solar job growth is strong in the U.S., according to The Solar Training and Hiring Insights report , released by the Solar Training Network , a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative and administered by The Solar Foundation. The report aggregates data from several sources, including an extensive survey of more than 400 solar installers, as well as smaller case studies and in-depth interviews with dozens of solar employers, trainers, and workforce development boards in the U.S. Amongst the findings: Solar employers expect to add 26,258 positions in 2017, a 10% growth in the workforce; the largest growth in the industry has occurred in installation, with 93,199 installation-related jobs added between 2010 and 2016; average wage range for an inexperienced, new installer was $10 – $23, progressing to $20 – $48 for a crew-leader; 77% of industry respondents did not have formal mentorship or apprenticeship programs. The report also provides insight into the prevalence and structure of in-house training programs, and employer attitudes to such issues as the importance of experience and certification in hiring decisions.
The 2016 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report, released on April 19th by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), states that wind power added jobs at a rate more nine times greater than the overall economy in 2016; domestic wind-related manufacturing jobs grew 17% to over 25,000 factory jobs in the U.S. According to the Association spokesman, “bigger, better technology enables new wind turbines to generate 50 percent more electricity than those built in 2009 and at 66 percent lower cost … With stable policy in place, we’re on the path to reliably supply 10 percent of U.S. electricity by 2020.” Further, “The average modern wind turbine installed here in the U.S. creates 44 years of full-time employment over its lifetime.” The report also emphasizes the importance of jobs and revenues to rural economies, where wind projects are concentrated. Other reports re wind energy: also from the AWEA, a white paper, Wind brings jobs and economic development to all 50 states ; from Navigant Consulting, Economic Development Impacts of Wind Projects released in March 2017 states that “the U.S. wind industry will drive over $85 billion in economic activity over the next four years while wind-related employment will grow to reach 248,000 jobs in all 50 states in 2020.” The Navigant forecasts measure the impact of the extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) programs in the U.S.