California’s energy-efficiency policies will create over 200,000 jobs by 2020, but the state could be creating more and better-quality jobs.
The Don Vial Center on Employment in the Green Economy, part of the University of California-Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, released a report last Thursday, March 17, examining green jobs and policies in California. The report, California Workforce, Education, and Training Needs Assessment for Energy Efficiency, Distributed Generation and Demand Response at the State Capitol, provides recommendations to the California Public Utilities Commission and other agencies regarding “workforce strategies needed to achieve the state’s ambitious energy efficiency goals.” The study was mandated by the California Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan.
Over 200,000 Jobs to be Created, but…
One key finding from the report is that California’s energy efficiency policies will stimulate approximately 11.2 billion dollars of public and private investment and create 211,000 jobs by 2020.
Other key findings, however, are that two-thirds of expected jobs directly related to energy efficiency work will be in traditional construction fields and only a tiny fraction of the jobs will be in new, specialized, higher-paying “green jobs.” As the Vial Center reports, unless certain systemic improvements are made (see below), this unnecessarily and significantly limits the environmental progress that is made and the worker benefits created:
“Poor quality installation of energy efficient equipment some sectors, is undermining the achievement of energy efficiency goals and is directly linked to low wage labor markets which do not reward workers or businesses for investments in training.”
One of the simple but clear recommendations the Vial Center makes is that California continue and expand its energy efficiency policies. Such policies will create more jobs and improve the economy, and, of course, help protect the environment. More specific key recommendations are as follows:
- “Green” existing training programs for traditional occupations by incorporating energy efficiency skills and knowledge into curricula, rather than promote stand-alone, narrowly focused green training programs.
- Use our public and ratepayer investment to promote high quality work and good careers for Californians by:
- Setting high quality skills certification standards for workers.
- Enforcing building codes and requiring other strong quality standards for contractors.
If California, which is already considered to have the second-best energy efficiency market amongst U.S. states, follows these recommendations and shows the country what is possible on this front, hopefully more states or the nation as a whole will implement such policies and programs.
More on the Vial Center report is available here:
* Executive Summary
* Part 1
* Part 2
Article by Zachary Shahan, appearing courtesy ecopolitology.