H.R. 1315. The Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Act
- Posted by Leslie Jackson on February 28, 2019 at 11:30p
There is cause for celebration this week not just for the Home Performance Coalition, (HPC) but for all players in the home performance industry, as H.R. 1315 was introduced to the 116th Congress.
The Clean Energy Infrastructure and the Workforce to Build It legislation, brought up by Subcommittee on Energy Chairman Bobby Rush, seeks to do several things, the results of which don’t look so out-of-reach when you read the testimonies.
H.R. 1315, The Green Collar Jobs Act
- seeks to address a needed boost in employment of under-served workers—racial minorities, veterans, those transitioning from fossil industries, etc.—in the U.S. labor force, especially in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics);
- recognizes the explosion of jobs in the energy sector, yet the lack of under-served workers represented; and
- the bill establishes an office of Workforce Development with funds to support training for an energy efficient workforce.
Chairman Rush invited Home Performance Coalition to bring a witness, and Leticia Colon de Mejias gave testimony. Kara Saul-Rinaldi, who is Vice President of Government Affairs & Policy, notes in her Home Energy Pros post of Jan 14, a shift in focus of the Democratic-heavy 116th Congress from the last Congress, toward a concern about climate change, and the belief in the economic and environmental benefits of a clean energy economy.
Leticia Colon de Mejias, Policy Co-Chair of HPC and CEO of the contracting firm Energy Efficiencies Solutions in Windsor, Connecticut, said yesterday (2/27/19) in her testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy: “We have a real need to ramp up implementation of workforce programs that prepare career changers, women, veterans, and other job seekers for the roles which need to be filled if we are to meet our nation’s demand for reliable and resilient energy production.”
H.R. 1315 addresses the problem that there are plenty of workers to do the jobs, yet the industry is only effective when its workers are up-to-date on the fast-changing and sometimes highly technical environment of energy efficiency. The dilemma for many, and what prevents energy efficiency from moving the economy forward more quickly, is, How can you take the time away from work to be trained, yet continue to earn a needed paycheck?
The Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Act of 2019 addresses that need for training, which is HPC’s focus in the legislation. “[It] is an energy workforce grant program, which would provide just such assistance to businesses that are seeking to educate and train new hires and existing employees in the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries,” says de Mejias. Her argument for the legislation is also appealing because it gives an extra boost to trainers and students who are minorities, women, and from underserved populations. She says, “We should give special consideration to increasing outreach to employers and job trainers preparing displaced and unemployed energy workers for emerging energy-related jobs and make resources available to institutions serving displaced and unemployed energy workers with the objective of increasing the number of individuals trained for jobs in energy-related industries.” The latter answers the question, if you take away oil and gas industry jobs, where are the people who had those jobs going to work?
Congress needs to hear clear messages from people with common sense and experience to guide them on this complex subject. As Chris Dorsi, Founder of HabitatX says, “This type of advocacy is some of the best work that the Home Performance Coalition is doing. There are a lot of good organizations working diligently to achieve widespread adoption of high performance housing, but few are as well positioned as HPC to hit the halls of Congress with this much knowledge and authority. High praise to everyone at HPC who is making it happen.”