Friday, June 5, 2009

Planning for Jobs

"Pursuing efficiency and renewable energy will drive the development of new products, services, companies, and markets...These jobs will come from both (1) new enterprises and jobs doing the work and (2) energy cost savings for residents that are spent in the community."

The City of Chicago Department of Environment, Julia Parzen, and The Center for Neighborhood Technology, "Chicago's Guide to Completing an Energy Efficiency & Conservation Strategy," February 2009.

A wise program designer from Portland recently said that we are likely to experience modest job creation during the pilot stage of energy retrofitting (i.e. residential weatherization) and a big expansion of jobs when when policy frameworks and financing mechanisms kick into gear and the market expands. So, how many jobs in the short run? Forget the big data forecasts, handy rules of thumb for jobs per $1M investment, or simple extrapolation from the money you had last year.

You've got to talk to the businesses who will employ people -- whether they are small businesses, nonprofits, or public agencies. How many full-time crews will they need to do the work given the ARRA resources available and the ramped up system for identifying homes and buildings. Can current crews be more productive, add hours, or specialize?

This will give you a good jobs guestimate for the short run. Don't be surprised if you find out that the real problem is finding contractors ready, able, and certified to do the work. You may need training programs for these businesses as well as other resources needed for their expansion. And don't be surprised if they say that they will do the hiring and recommend people for certification, etc. -- unless, of course, you've slipped in some first source hiring provisions.

Given all this, job creation will be modest at first and you will experience some difficulty in aggegating demand for training. Nonprofits and public agency delivery models lend themselves more easily to worker training programs on the front end. You may also be spending more time than you want tamping down all the expectations that have been cranked up.

All that you learn will be tremendously helpful for when the job growth does occur. So don't forget to put those energy efficiency market drivers in place sooner than later.

1 comment:

Colin Austin said...

Some communities are taking more of a "green skills" approach. In the short term, take the opportunity to get people skilled up. Probaly most relevant for incumbent workers. Solar Richmond (California) reports that nobody is hiring the low-income folks that they train to install roof panels.