BOSTON /Massachusetts Newswire/ — As part of his Massachusetts Recovery Plan to secure the state’s economic future, Governor Deval Patrick today announced nearly $1 million in grants for community- and school-based programs that will enhance the Commonwealth’s ability to train the cutting edge workforce needed for the state’s burgeoning clean energy industry, while expanding “green job” opportunities for Massachusetts residents.
“Our clean energy initiatives are paying off. In the solar power arena alone, the number of installation contractors in Massachusetts has nearly quadrupled in the past 19 months,” said Governor Patrick. “The investments will help us keep pace with the employment needs of our clean energy sector and give our people the skills they need to get these jobs.”
Working in collaboration with the Commonwealth Corporation – a quasi-public workforce development agency affiliated with the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development – the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (CEC) is awarding six grants to programs to improve the clean energy workforce development capacity of higher education institutions, vocational technical high schools and community based organizations.
“Green jobs training is essential to keep up the momentum in Massachusetts’s clean energy sector,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles. “The Governor’s support for these programs will ensure that Massachusetts is ahead of the curve with a highly trained workforce ready to step into skilled jobs in one of the most promising sectors of our economy.”
“Governor Patrick is committed to building a highly skilled workforce here in the Commonwealth,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Suzanne Bump. “These grants continue that commitment, while supporting his administration’s pioneering efforts to expand and support green jobs. We are thrilled to add these projects to the growing portfolio of training resources available to Massachusetts workers.”
The funded programs, which were selected from a field of 38 applicants, include proposals from Blackstone Valley Vocational Regional School District in Upton, Western New England College in Springfield, Bristol Community College in Fall River, Nuestras Raices in Holyoke, and UMass Boston and the Asian American Civic Association in Boston. To optimize program development strategy and solicit continued input on skill gaps and training needs of the industry, grant applicants were required to partner with at least two clean energy companies and encouraged to collaborate with other entities experienced in workforce education. Once developed, the funded programs will provide training to thousands of high school and college students, at-risk youth, low-income residents, building and trade professionals and clean energy employers.
The grants announced today are part of a nearly $4 million comprehensive effort by the Patrick Administration to anticipate and support the workforce needs of the state’s growing clean energy sector, while helping Massachusetts residents capitalize on emerging employment opportunities in fields such as renewable energy manufacturing and installation and energy efficiency technology.
In April, the CEC, which was created by the Green Jobs Act of 2008 to foster growth in the Massachusetts clean energy industry, awarded five grants totaling $1 million for workforce training programs aimed at low-income workers in Lowell, Worcester, Springfield, Brockton and Pittsfield. These Pathways Out of Poverty Grants are already yielding results. Last month, the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County (a grant recipient) awarded certificates in energy auditing and weatherization to about a dozen participants, and an upcoming green careers job fair is expected to place 80 percent of the program’s clients in new jobs. In Worcester, Pathways grant recipient Quinsigamond Community College recently conducted a 40-hour solar energy installer course for unemployed electricians. Pathways grants – as well as the grants announced today – are financed with funds appropriated by the Legislature last year for the Massachusetts Alternative and Clean Energy Investment Trust Fund.
In July, using a portion of carbon allowance permit revenues under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the CEC awarded a three-year $1.87 million contract to Springfield Technical Community College to create a hub for a statewide network of programs to develop, train and maintain the skilled workforce needed to speed growth in the Commonwealth’s energy efficiency sector.
“The grants announced today provide further evidence that Massachusetts is leading the pack when it comes to developing opportunities for the clean energy industry to find a skilled workforce,” CEC Interim Executive Director Patrick Cloney said. “These investments in training and education programs will have a broad and long lasting impact on the industry and will give us the competitive advantage we need to be the hub of the green economy.”
The Patrick Administration’s emphasis on green jobs training also includes plans to apply this fall for approximately $6 million in federal stimulus funding from the US Department of Labor. Led by the State Workforce Investment Board, a public-private partnership of energy, labor, economic development and education agencies and organizations proposes to use the federal funds for regional job training and placement activities leading to employment in targeted clean energy industry sectors.
The Clean Energy Workforce Development Grants announced today include:
Blackstone Valley Vocational Regional School District, Upton
•$150,460 for professional and curriculum development in weatherization, solar photovoltaic and solar thermal for vocational school instructor network
Western New England College, Springfield
•$153,036 to develop a green energy concentration in both the Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, with a particular focus on wind energy
University of Massachusetts Boston
•$187,000 for interdisciplinary degree and certificate programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels for the science, business, politics, economics, and policy aspects of clean energy and climate change
Asian American Civic Association, Boston
•$117,370 for an energy efficiency technician apprenticeship program
Bristol Community College, Fall River
•$196,666 to develop an online course in green energy design and building, with hands-on workshops targeted at building industry professionals and vocational school students
Nuestras Raices, Holyoke
•$145,468 for a renewable energy technology certificate program and learning labs at Holyoke Community College, and training specifically in solar thermal at new lab space at the Roots Up Center for low-income youth
For more information on the Patrick Administration’s focus on green jobs training visit www.masscec.com .