Hundreds of Workers to be Trained for Green Jobs with Two New Initiatives

Philadelphia — Hundreds of workers will prepare for skilled positions in the city’s growing green economy, with two new efforts announced today.

The John S. and James L. Knight Green Jobs Training Center will move low-skilled workers into higher-paying careers with advancement opportunities while filling positions created by the expanding sector. The training center, scheduled to open in 2010, will be run by the Energy Coordinating Agency and funded with a $1.1 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

A city-wide green jobs apprenticeship program is also being designed by the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, thanks to a $125,000 Knight Foundation planning grant. The Green Jobs Corps will aim to match basic skills training with employers’ needs and strive to connect local green companies to the region’s workforce.

With strong green businesses and an influx of state and federal funds to the sector, Philadelphia’s demand for workers skilled in implementing energy efficiency is increasing. Over the next several years, clean energy in the region will require a substantial workforce that simply doesn’t exist – yet.

“These two efforts will open the doors of opportunity for low-wage workers to advance into career ladder jobs, while cementing the region’s leadership in the green economy,” said Matt Bergheiser, program director for Knight Foundation, a lead investor in workforce development in the region. Since 2007, Knight Foundation has granted $5.3 million to local efforts that prepare lower-skilled workers for careers, support working adults who choose to return to college and connect ex-offenders to employment opportunities.

The 20,000 square-foot John S. and James L. Knight Green Jobs Training Center will provide workers with state of the art energy conservation training and
 professional certification for key green collar positions. Serving as a hub for the best
training providers in the country, the center will work with community colleges, technical schools and employers in the region who need their workers trained in green industry.

The center will house classroom and laboratory space with operable heating and air conditioning equipment, rooftop solar panels and other real-life situations green collar techs encounter in homes and businesses. Graduates will be prepared for a range of jobs, from entry-level weatherization positions to the more advanced building performance analyst and solar tech, said Liz Robinson, the Energy Coordinating Agency’s executive director.

“The John S. and James L. Knight Green Jobs Training Center will be a vital link to green jobs in Philadelphia and the region. These are good-paying jobs with a very bright future,” Robinson said. “The Training Center will help build the skilled workforce that Pennsylvania urgently needs to create a new clean energy economy.”

To prepare for the Green Jobs Corps, the Sustainable Business Network will meet with employers and labor groups to identify skill sets, employment obstacles and advancement tracts for regional jobs. Once created, the Job Corps will be a pipeline for placing workers into existing positions.

The Green Economy Task Force – an alliance of 100 businesses, environmental groups, workforce development providers and unions – will advise the Green Job Corps’ development. Van Jones, founder and president of Green For All and author of the New York Times bestseller, The Green Collar Economy, said of the effort: “It requires the political will of Washington, the leadership of local governments, support from community organizations and businesses, and tapping into our greatest resource: the American worker. Philadelphia is embracing this challenge and is working with the full range of stakeholders to build an inclusive green economy.”

The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability is a partner in both efforts, and will provide critical support including green job market analyses and developing policies to drive local demand for energy efficiency jobs.

“Through the generosity of Knight Foundation, the leadership of Mayor Nutter and the vision of hundreds of stakeholders, Philadelphia is poised to take full advantage of the growing green economy—not just making us a leader in urban sustainability, but by lifting Philadelphians out of poverty through training and new jobs,” said Leanne Krueger-Braneky, executive director of the Sustainable Business Network of Philaldelphia.

Said Mark Alan Hughes, the city of Philadelphia’s director of sustainability and a chief policy advisor: “Our mayor is not only committed to urban sustainability, but is actively leveraging any and all resources that will prepare low-income Philadelphians for jobs in the growing green economy. Through strategic collaborations, investment in best practices and thoughtful implementation, Philadelphia is taking the lead in the green jobs movement.”

Pat Eiding, president of Philadelphia’s AFL-CIO, also applauded the new initiatives.

“The labor movement talks about good green jobs providing workers a
career and not just a job. Organized labor is a natural fit in this coalition because we share common goals: we both care about the environment and want to create training, development and career opportunities that provide good wages with benefits,” Eiding said.

About the Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia

The Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA) was established in 1984 to help people conserve energy and to promote a sustainable and socially equitable energy future for all. In the past year, as one of the largest contractors of the federally funded Weatherization Assistance Program, ECA’s energy conservation services saved low income families an average of 20% of their energy costs and prevented the emission of 2,074 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). ECA also provides LEED for Homes, ENERGY STAR Homes, and Home Performance with ENERGY STAR services, and recently became the first Building Performance Institute (BPI) Affiliate in Pennsylvania. For more, visit ecasavesenergy.org.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of the U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects with the potential to create transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

About the Sustainable Business Network

The Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (SBN) is a business organization that brings together local leaders who share a common passion to grow successful businesses that are socially and environmentally responsible. SBN cultivates socially and environmentally responsible commerce in the Philadelphia region by providing its membership with assessment, education, advocacy and business development and opportunities. SBN works with businesses from startups to older companies who want to create or maintain organizations that respect their employees, value the community and protect the earth. The Sustainable Business Network currently has over 450 members throughout the Philadelphia Region. For more, visit www.sbnphiladelphia.org.

About the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability

The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability aims to meet Mayor Michael Nutter’s challenge that Philadelphia be the “greenest city in America.” Rising energy prices and increasing awareness of the impact that greenhouse gases are having on the global climate have increased the value of compact, walkable and transit- and resource-rich cities like Philadelphia. Mayor Nutter created the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability to help the city leverage its existing assets and mitigate its exposure to the effects of global warming. This means changing the way that government does business. It also means giving citizens the tools they need to lower their own carbon emissions and reduce their vulnerability to the ever-increasing cost of energy.