GREEN JOBS: On the Eve of Earth Day, Murray Explores Plans to Get Workers Green Job Skills

Apr 21 2009

Washington state company, worker and professor discuss what needs be done in Washington state to help fill the green jobs; Secretary of Labor outlines vision for green jobs skills training



Witness Testimony:

 (Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) Chaired a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee that focused on the need to train workers with the skills needed to fill jobs in the emerging green economy. The hearing included testimony from Labor Secretary Hilda Solis on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) vision to train workers, including how they will spend $500 million in competitive grants for green job worker training, funds Senator Murray helped secure in the Economic Recovery Act. Murray also heard testimony from the CEO of a Washington state leader in green building and retrofitting, and from a Washington state community college president and former student on a pioneering solar panel installation training program.

“Going green will mean getting serious about worker training,” said Senator Murray. “From solar panel installation, to green building, to retrofitting our homes and offices, many of the jobs of tomorrow will require increased training efforts today.  With record investments in creating green jobs in the Economic Recovery Act, now is the time to ramp up our efforts. Only with a skilled green workforce will we be able to free our nation from dependence on foreign oil, and build a stronger and more sustainable economic future. In Washington state we are beginning to take the worker training steps needed to be a leader in the green economy, but much more needs to be done.”

“Our ability to succeed in the green economy is directly related to the number of skilled, competent individuals who are available to perform this groundbreaking work,” said Dean Allen, CEO of Seattle-based McKinstry Company. “We believe that without this commitment to continuing education, workforce development, and understanding the technical needs of energy efficient built environments for our country, the goal of creating sustainable, family wage, green collar jobs will fail. McKinstry is committed to that belief and has shown that commitment through our historical and continuing activities in this arena, and we think that good policy at the Federal, state, and local level can support these goals.”

“Community colleges are the closest thing this country has to a national network of ubiquitous, low cost and high quality training providers,” said Lee Lambert, President of Shoreline Community College. “The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and our thirty four community and technical colleges are moving Washington State forward in training and educating the green workforce through its innovative programs and strong partnerships with business and industry, community based partners, the local workforce development councils and myriad of other state and local organizations.”

“Twenty four years after graduating from the University of Oregon, I attended Shoreline Community College to gain the specialized skills necessary to participate in the emerging Green Energy industry,” said Phil Lou, WA-based solar panel developer and installer.  “With what I’ve learned from Shoreline Community College and with help from my employer I was able to install a solar array on my home. My family and I watch with satisfaction as our utility meter spins backward on most days; meaning our array is generating more electricity than we are using and the balance is flowing back into the local electrical grid.”

“We have all heard that the growth of green jobs is expected to rapidly accelerate in the years ahead,” said Mark H. Ayers, President of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO. “When it comes to training, the Building and Construction Trades Department and our member unions are not only believers in forming partnerships. We are practitioners.”