Green Labor Market Analysis and Responding to Job Training Grants

Published on Jun 29, 2009

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Emsi Burning Glass

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The Employment and Training Administration recently released five competitive grants (roughly $500 million) targeted toward “research, labor exchange, and job training for projects that prepare workers for careers in energy efficiency and renewable energy . . .”

>> You can see these grants here:

The 5 grants are:

1. State Labor Market Information Improvement Grants ($50 million): “enhance labor exchange infrastructure for careers within the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries.” Closing Date: August 14
2. Energy Training Partnership Grants ($100 million): “training and placement services in the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries for workers impacted by national energy and environmental policy, individuals in need of updated training related to the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries, and unemployed workers.” Closing Date: September 4
3. Pathways Out of Poverty ($150 million): “provide training and placement services to provide pathways out of poverty and into employment within the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries.” Closing Date: September 29
4. State Energy Sector Partnership and Training Grants ($190 million): “In order to highlight the important role States play in building a national green economy, the Department is investing in workforce sector strategies that target energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. DOL encourages a strategic planning process that aligns the Governor’s overall workforce vision, State energy policies, and local and regional training activities that lead to employment in targeted industry sectors.” Closing date: October 20
5. Green Capacity Building Grants ($5 million): “projects that build the capacity of DOL-funded training programs to ensure that targeted groups are prepared to meet the needs of our country’s expanding green industries.” Closing date: August 5

Section 1
We’ve read through the grants and have pulled out a few summary points and general observations. The big point is that labor market and economic analysis is going to be a very important part of the process (both for winning the grant and implementing the projects). Below we’ve attached some of our general observations, which will be followed by a more specific discussion of two of the actual grants.

* Research: The specific areas that the DOL has asked states/regions to target are:

  • Energy-efficient building, construction, and retrofitting industries,

  • Renewable electric power industry,

  • Energy efficient and advanced drive train vehicle industry,

  • Biofuels industry,

  • Deconstruction and materials use industries,

  • Energy efficiency assessment industry serving residential, commercial, or industrial sectors, and

  • Manufacturers that produce sustainable products using environmentally sustainable process and materials.

These sectors (associated with Section 171 (e)(1)(B)(ii) of WIA) do not directly correspond to traditional industry sectors (e.g. NAICS codes) so a fair amount of either anecdotal or business level information may needed and combined with actual labor market analysis (NAICS and SOC codes) to develop a strong proposal or strategy. In addition, some of these sectors (e.g. “Manufacturers that produce sustainable products using environmentally sustainable process and materials” may be much harder to quantify than others (e.g. “Energy-efficient building, construction, and retrofitting industries,” which would basically fall into residential and commercial building and construction).

How we can help: EMSI has up-to-date labor market information for any region in the U.S. With our data we can build custom occupation and industry clusters so that you can model the employment trends, wages, skill levels, training needs, and training programs for any of these areas. In addition, we have recently added business level data so that you can look for company names and sizes based on their respective industry. This data will help you quickly and easily pull all of the necessary information for your research and planning efforts.

* The O*NET Categories: In addition to understanding and training for the seven energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors, the grants have stated that “the Department is interested in applicants contributing to our understanding of green industries and jobs that clean and enhance our environment.” As a result, regions are free to propose strategies that train for occupations within the following areas that have been set by O*NET research.

  • Renewable Energy Generation

  • Transportation

  • Energy Efficiency

  • Green Construction

  • Energy Trading

  • Energy and Carbon Capture and Storage

  • Research, Design, and Consulting Services

  • Environmental Protection

  • Agriculture and Forestry

  • Manufacturing

  • Recycling and Waste Reduction

  • Government and Regulatory Administration

How we can help: EMSI has recently integrated these sectors into our web-based labor market tools, so that planners can model this data for any region in the US. Specifically, we have mapped O*NET to SOC, which will allow you to move between industries and occupations (via NAICS-SOC crosswalk through staffing patterns), training programs (via SOC-CIP crosswalk), other occupations (via and SOC-O*NET crosswalk), specific knowledge, skills, and abilities areas (via O*NET) and actual company names (via business level data from Nielsen/Claritas).

>> click here to view data and learn more about the O*NET green clusters.

* Strategic Planning: A key thing to note about these grants is that “States are expected to use workforce and labor market information and data as the foundation on which to build and implement effective workforce development strategies.” Put simply, LMI can help you look at the trends, skills, and training associated with industries and occupations that would likely make up energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other sectors associated with the green economy.

How we can help: If your region would like to put together some data analysis please feel free to contact us. We can help make the process extremely timely, straightforward, and very effective. For more on our analysis of green jobs please visit our green jobs resource page.

Understanding the Economics: The DOL would also like to see applicants, “offer supporting data demonstrating (that the green clusters) are emerging industries which are producing jobs in their communities.”

As you look at data and try to determine which sector is going to be best to pursue, you will quickly notice that a lot of these sectors, much like the rest of the economy, are currently in decline. In fact, many of these sectors (particularly construction and manufacturing) are losing huge amounts of jobs in your community. As a result, it is very important for local planners to have a thorough understanding of the data, and to use it to plan correctly. Here are several reasons why:

  • First, you don’t want to overtrain. If your community has experienced 100,000 layoffs in construction, it means you essentially have an excess of 100,000 construction workers. If you start training new people to do “green building” you are creating a glut (too much inventory) which is a double whammy — it hurts the people you just trained and it hurts the people who are out of work. In addition, you have just poured a lot of money into a training program that has no return on investment for the trainee.

  • Second, with such huge decline, it could be easy to get caught up in general “green trends” with little or no regard for the actual labor market. It’s necessary on the front end to have a very detailed and realistic evaluation of the regional economy and what it needs before you start developing a lot of training. With these grants there is going to be any number of groups vying for workforce development boards to pursue various development scenarios. In this sense, workforce boards could actually face their own local lobbying, so it is very important that they have a methodology in place to make the best possible decision for the sake of the local workforce, or else a really bad decision could be made. This is where labor market data, economic analysis, and even input-output modeling can be extremely helpful.

*Side Note: Understanding the Green evolution: A major complaint about green jobs has been the lack of definition. An interesting and important thing to note is how the term “green job” (both in terms of rhetoric and actual definition) is rapidly evolving into “energy jobs” (specifically, “energy efficiency” and “renewable energy”). As a result, training grants are much more oriented toward specific energy “industries” (the DOL is using this term loosely and not in line with actual NAICS codes).

How we can help: At the local level it is going to be important, yet again, to use labor market and economic analysis to translate terms, regulations, policies, and the resultant spending into industry and occupation effects and associated training programs. Again, many of the occupations associated with such work currently exist and will just need to have a few minor enhancements in skills to accommodate the new demands. See the O*NET framework for more of a description.

Section II. Reviewing the Grants
In this section we will provide a basic review of two of the green jobs grants from ETA, and provide a short discussion on how we can help.

I. Summary of State LMI Improvement Grants
Under this grant, states are expected to “collect, analyze, and disseminate labor market information and to enhance the labor exchange infrastructure for careers within the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. . .” State grants will range from $750K to $1.2 million. Consortiums can bid for up to as much as $4 million.

As we have reviewed, the DOL wants states to help workers find employment in the aforementioned green sectors. Here are the four main strategies and approaches the DOL would like to see out of these applications:

1. Data Collection and Estimation Activities Related to Green Industries, Occupations, and Skill Requirements: In this section applicants are to “propose effective methods for estimating the impact on industry and occupational employment resulting from impending green technologies . . .”

How we can help: EMSI has a pre-built input-output modeling tool, which will allow you to quickly and easily model the impact of industry changes (growth or decline) throughout your regional economy. In addition, because conducting economic impact analysis requires some up-front knowledge of what you are looking at (e.g. what is the appropriate region to model for, what is a multiplier, etc.) we recommend you check out our Input-Output Guidebook or give us a call for extra help.

Finally, we have integrated industry, occupation, and skills information together in one place.

1. Data Dissemination Activities: “applicants will disseminate the research and data produced through these projects and include outreach strategies to inform  . . .” In addition, under this section applicants should provide, “career information, competency models, and guidance for jobseekers.”

How we can help: First, the most effective means of transmitting this information would be via a website. The difficulty will be actually designing something that integrates all the appropriate datasets together and presents them in an well-organized way such that a wide audience can access and use the information. This is generally what EMSI does with data, and we would be happy to explore the development of a site for your state, consortium, or organization. In addition, we have recently developed a career exploration tool that takes into account labor market information, current job postings, and occupational compatibility measures so that jobseekers can locate good jobs. If you would like to explore how this technology could be added to your website, we would love to demonstrate. Based on our current suite of tools we could customize something that would fulfill this part of the proposal.

2. Related Research Activities: “additional research that provides insight into the State regulatory environment, an understanding of current programs of study and related credentials, and an identification of capital investments in green industries” via:

  • State-specific summaries of Green Job statutes and regulations,

  • State-specific summaries of post-secondary and higher educational institutions courses or programs,

  • State-specific summaries of linkages between identified occupations and related training courses that prepare workers with the skills and competencies required,

  • Identification of projects and their employment needs that are resulting from Recovery Act or other investments in energy sector development,

  • Estimated supply of human capital, including data on workforce demographics, educational attainment levels and existing skills, labor surpluses or shortages of skilled workforce, and

  • Development of labor market information tools to estimate the employment and skills needs of State or sub-State levels or for defined economic regions.

How we can help: EMSI’s suite of web-based labor market tools are designed to provide you much of this analysis (apart from a review of state regulations).

3. Labor Exchange Activities: “strategies for posting job openings to online job banks that will be highlighted for easy recognition as green jobs by job seekers.”

How we can help: EMSI’s Job Finder is a self-service tool that helps displaced workers and jobseekers explore local career opportunities based on occupational compatibility, labor market trends, up-to-date job openings, and the presence of local training programs.

Job Finder produces individualized information that jobseekers can use to understand how well their skills match up against current openings, and local industry and occupation trends. This information is a valuable first step toward targeting better long-term employment, and understanding what sort of training and skills are needed to find a good job.
Job Finder can be customized to look at specific sectors, such as careers in “green.”

If your organization would like to discuss this, please contact us.

Summary: The development of web-centric economic, workforce, and job-searching tools based on up-to-date and aggregated datasets is EMSI’s specialty. If your organization of state would like to discuss the development of a customized system for your constituents, we would be happy to talk. Please visit our website or contact us at 866.999.3674.

II. State Energy Sector Partnership (SESP) and Training Grants
This grant involves the dispersal of $190 million for the development of strategies and analysis, and partnerships to move unemployed workers (largely from auto-effected downturn) into the clean or renewable energy sectors. The anticipated award amount per grantee is between $2 and $6 million.

Again, in this grant, the DOL wants applicants to pay particular attention to the seven energy efficiency and renewable energy industries (section 171 (e)(1)(B)(ii) of WIA) and the O*NET defined green sectors. In addition, “the Department will consider proposals that focus on these occupations within these industries if applicants can offer supporting data demonstrating these are emerging industries which are producing jobs in their communities.”

Applicants are also encouraged to use The Aspen Institute’s Workforce Strategies Initiative, which is an “integrated system of education, training, and supportive services that promote skill attainment and career pathway development for workers.”

Here is a quick summary of the key components of winning applications:

1. First, applicants are strongly encouraged to conduct the comprehensive strategic planning process prior to submitting their application. If the state already has done this, the plan should be reviewed and evaluated based on how well it conforms to the stipulations set forth in this grant. If the planning process has not been carried out then the “work will serve as the foundation for the technical proposal for the SGA.”
2. The planning process should involve these steps:

  • Review the Governor’s overall workforce vision and goals related to this area

  • Establish strategic vision and goals for preparing a workforce that meets the needs of energy efficiency and renewable energy

  • Analyze and determine the sectors where investments are or will be made and the occupations, skills, etc. within the energy sectors that will be targeted

  • Analyze and determine the key populations that will be targeted (e.g. what training needs do ex-auto workers need to transition into energy?)

  • Develop an energy sector strategy for training workers in the energy sectors and propose training activities.

How EMSI can help
We have designed our web-based labor market tool to analyze custom industry and occupation clusters such as the ones being set forth under this grant. Through this functionality users can build these green clusters straight into the tool (in some cases we have actually pre-built them for you — see the O*NET section). This will give you a competitive advantage as you build your application, and will provide a fast, effective analysis so you can understand what sectors to target. In addition, we have mapped the data to other important datasets so you can see (1) the skills and training needs associated with each worker relative to the new occupation, (2) the actual training programs associated with the skills and occupations, and (3) the industry and occupational outlooks for the various areas you are trying to understand. Finally, because we have just added business level data (company names and size) to our database, you can see actual companies that may be looking for new workers.

For more information, please contact us and speak to one of our helpful representatives who can walk you through the process and look at the data with you.

If you would like more help building your actual strategic plan, we can help with that too.

Contact Rob Sentz