Awards fund efforts in Lowell, Worcester, Springfield, Brockton, and Pittsfield to expand the clean energy workforce by boosting skills of low-income workers
BOSTON – As part of Governor Patrick’s Massachusetts Recovery Plan to secure the state’s economic future, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Ian Bowles today announced five grants totaling $1 million for workforce training programs to help low-income workers in Lowell, Worcester, Springfield, Brockton, and Pittsfield capitalize on employment opportunities in the Commonwealth’s growing clean energy sector.
Authorized by the Green Jobs Act signed into law by Governor Patrick in August, EEA’s Pathways out of Poverty grants are designed to jumpstart training in clean energy careers for low- and moderate-income residents. As directed by the Green Jobs Act, grants are financed with funds appropriated by the Legislature last year for the Massachusetts Alternative and Clean Energy Investment Trust Fund.
In December, EEA solicited proposals for programs to serve workers with incomes at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($63,600 for family of four) in the Commonwealth’s “Gateway Communities” – former mill cities that continue to provide first homes and first jobs for new immigrants. Secretary Bowles today announced awards of $200,000 each to: JYFNetWorks in Boston (serving the Lowell area); Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester; Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, Inc. in Springfield; Massasoit Community College in Brockton; and Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield. Each awardee will partner with local clean energy employers, community organizations, and educational institutions to deliver comprehensive job training and career growth services to workers in its target area.
“Expanding employment opportunities in the Commonwealth’s clean energy industry is an important goal everywhere, but especially crucial in low-income neighborhoods where resources and opportunities of any kind are scarce. I am happy to announce that the first significant green jobs grants awarded since passage of the Green Jobs Act are going to historically under-served areas of our state,” Secretary Bowles said. “The Patrick Administration’s clean energy goals are not only good for the environment, they are essential for the Massachusetts economy. These grants will go a long way toward ensuring that residents of these five Gateway Cities share in the prosperity that is bound to come from growing our clean energy sector.”
In addition to authorizing Pathways out of Poverty grants, the Green Jobs Act created a new Clean Energy Center that will support workforce development, university partnerships, R&D, and clean energy entrepreneurship. The Center will oversee Pathways out of Poverty grant –funded programs, which are expected to run through June 2010.
Pathways out of Poverty grants were awarded for the following programs:
Target Area: Lowell
· The Solar Installation Technician Training Program will create new career pathways for low-income and immigrant residents of Greater Lowell, while meeting the rising entry-level workforce needs of the Lowell area’s growing solar-installation business market. Program graduates will be qualified for entry-level positions as solar panel installers and to take the entry-level certification exam from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.
Quinsigamond Community College
Target Area: Worcester
· The Worcester Green Collar Jobs Project will respond to the workforce needs of an emerging “green” employment sector in Central Massachusetts, providing quality jobs and career pathways for unemployed, underemployed, underserved and low-income residents. The project will include a pre-apprenticeship program, a photovoltaic (PV) “boot camp,” weatherization technician and energy auditor training, career coaching and job placement. In addition, the project is expected to result in increased energy efficiency in low-income neighborhoods.
Massasoit Community College
Target Area: Brockton
· The Brockton Green Jobs Pathways Partnership will expand Brockton’s workforce in the fields of energy efficiency and solar PV installation, targeting unemployed or underemployed Brockton residents to develop skills needed for jobs with family-sustaining wages. The initiative is designed to address skill and competency gaps identified by employers and will train workers for positions such as solar PV installation assistant, solar PV product sales representative, weatherization technician, energy auditing assistant, and green product sales representative.
Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, Inc.
Target Area: Springfield/Holyoke
· The Springfield-Holyoke Gateway to Green Jobs project will provide career ladder opportunities in the clean energy field for targeted local populations, including women, youth, minorities, and non-English speaking and low-income individuals. Driven by employer needs, the initiative will provide training in occupations such as solar boiler installation, energy auditing, weatherization, and manufacturing of a new proprietary window sealing product.
Berkshire Community College
Target Area: Pittsfield
· The Clean Energy Sector Pathways Program will prepare low-income, unemployed and dislocated workers for entry-level job opportunities in energy efficiency and renewable energy industries, providing them with the basic skills, education and hands-on training needed to qualify for “green collar” jobs. Selected individuals will participate in a program leading to a Certificate in Energy Conservation, as well as other clean energy industry credentials. Ultimately, the program will create a Berkshire County Green Jobs Corps comprising workers qualified for placement into sustainable clean energy jobs.
"Green jobs are the future of our economy and the future is now in Berkshire County. I want to thank the Secretary for recognizing this partnership, led by Berkshire Community College," said State Senator Benjamin B. Downing. "Giving our workers the skills needed to succeed in the clean energy economy is good economic, environmental, and energy policy."
"This grant for Berkshire Community College is essential for the citizens of the county to learn the skills necessary for the green collar jobs of the future,” added Representative Daniel E. Bosley. “The Clean Energy Sector Pathways Program will indeed give our citizens the tools necessary to compete in the new economy."
Downing and Bosley, both representing the Berkshires, were key supporters of the Pathways out of Poverty program during legislative debate on the Green Jobs Act last year.
Investments in job training and expanding the Commonwealth’s clean energy sector are a critical components of Governor Patrick’s Massachusetts Recovery Plan, which combines state, federal and, where possible, private efforts to provide immediate and long-term relief and position the Commonwealth for recovery in the following ways:
- Deliver immediate relief by investing in the road, bridge and rail projects that put people to work today and providing safety net services that sustain people who are especially vulnerable during an economic crisis;
- Build a better tomorrow through education and infrastructure investments that strengthen our economic competitiveness, prepare workers for the jobs of the future and support clean energy, broadband and technology projects that cut costs while growing the economy; and
- Reform state government by eliminating the pension and ethics loopholes that discredit the work of government and revitalize the transportation networks that have suffered from decades of neglect and inaction.
Governor Patrick played a key role in developing the federal recovery law’s State Stabilization Fund that is now being used to shore up state education funding as well as to prevent layoffs and cutbacks in other critical areas of government during the recession. For more information about what the federal recovery law means for Massachusetts, please visit www.mass.gov/recovery.”