By Kai Palmer-Dunning | Wed, August 25, 21
The new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has reminded us all of the urgent importance to address climate change. We must rapidly ramp up efforts to decarbonize all industry sectors, make them more resilient, and prioritize sustainability.
The Infrastructure Bill that recently passed in the Senate sets aside funding for improving resilience in the energy sector and modernizing the electric grid. It also prioritizes electric vehicle infrastructure and zero-emissions public transportation. With renewed climate urgency and a major infusion of funding, support for workforce development and growth will be more important than ever to meet the demand for infrastructure and building decarbonization projects.
The time for action is now. This moment calls for swift action to address climate change, and to do so in an equitable manner.
This is a great opportunity for those growing the workforce to meet this demand by addressing environmental justice issues like equity whenever possible. The impacts of climate change affect vulnerable populations like low-income families and communities of color most. Buildings and homes in low-income communities are often older and less resilient to destructive weather events like major storms and extreme temperatures. That is true for infrastructure as well. Building and infrastructure improvements will be needed most in these communities and workforce opportunities must also be prioritized to address equity.
To help support workforce development efforts and to ensure that equity is centered in these efforts, NEEP has developed an Equitable Workforce Best Practice Guidance report. Some of the guidance in the report includes:
- Target Existing Educational Pathways
- Augment Workforce Retraining Pathways
- Engage Community and Local Workforce When Crafting Clean Energy Workforce Development Programs
- Leverage New and Existing Workforce Development Funding for Clean Energy Job Training
- Offer Grant Opportunities to Small Businesses for Energy Efficiency Training and Professional Accreditations
Over the next couple of years, more than one million additional construction workers will be needed to meet construction demand. The growing need for workers is in part due to an aging construction workforce as well as fewer school curricula and training for the construction trades. Many states have begun to focus on these issues and aim to address them through funding and workforce training programs. NEEP will continue to support these efforts and provide assistance to states in our region as they equitably decarbonize the built environment on which we all rely.