Green Jobs Stakeholders Meeting
On Friday, July 28th, a Green Jobs Stakeholders Meeting brought together over 30 attendees representing the nonprofit sector, workforce programs, education, government agencies, unions, natural resources and the business community to share strategy on equitably supporting the green jobs sector in Minnesota.
We must ensure that we have a competent, well-trained workforce to meet the scale and scope of the unfolding, green economic transition. The meeting, facilitated by Alex Clark of turnlane, kicked off with getting to the heart of defining green jobs. What are they, what do they look like for Twin Cities communities, and how have attendees been defining them in their work?
The first Green Jobs Initiative meeting was organized by representatives from five local organizations: Janet Brown from Climate Generation, Elena Foshay from Center for Energy and Environment, Bree Halverson of Bluegreen Alliance, Megan O’Hara from Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (MNIPL), and Jamez Staples of Renewable Energy Partners.
Recap of Event
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To set the tone for the mission and goals of the meeting, three presenters briefed attendees on the changing climate of Minnesota and what the green jobs movement should and could look like:
Janet Brown, Associate Director of Climate Generation, discussed our state’s role as an eyewitness to climate change effects and the importance of addressing the educational achievement gap in Minnesota – one of the worst in the nation. It is critical to increase STEM academic achievement in young underrepresented students, starting with middle school.
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Jamez Staples, President of Renewable Energy Partners (REP), spoke about REP’s role in the local community providing career opportunities in the emerging solar energy industry for people of color while mitigating climate change. Increased access to training and capital for start ups is the first step in getting people who have not been engaged in the workforce to do so. Multipurpose training facilities are the way of the future, with hands-on training and learning experiences at the center of instruction.
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Elena Foshay, Community Energy Program Manager from the Center for Energy and Environment, highlighted the “Catch 22” in green jobs development; candidates are saying “I can’t find a job” while employers are saying “I can’t find good people.” Hailing from California, she outlined the Green Workforce Development initiative happening with great success out West. Green Energy Training Services (GETS) was started in 2008 in California with funding for an 80-hour energy efficiency training program. It evolved into a pre-apprenticeship job program that readied individuals for work in a one-on-one model.
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Assessing the Current Green Jobs Landscape
With so many leaders across sectors in the room, it was essential to understand each individual’s goal. The stakeholders were asked three questions: What kind of Minnesota are we trying to create with the Green Jobs Initiative? What needs to be present to create this vision? What work is your organization doing to move it forward? After a few minutes of brainstorming what a just, sustainable state looks like, the room opened up into conversation.
Stakeholders envision a Minnesota with equal access to food, education, jobs, shelter, etc., and a state that is healthy and fair. They see security in democracy and resiliency in the people. There is recognition that changes in one sector equal changes in another, and bridging the gap between education and the workforce is a core value. Collaboration and balance is at the heart of creating a full spectrum of opportunity for all individuals.
The meeting concluded with stakeholders identifying what powerful and impactful programs are already taking place throughout the Twin Cities metro to address green jobs, from education and training to career creation, collecting data, and engaging local citizens and government officials.
Priorities based on post-survey of attendees
- Have a focused, tactical conversation on barriers of job creation and pathway/areas (66%)
- Complete a landscape analysis (including HS grad rate of people of color, job projections in STEM competency, skills needed for jobs, state models that exist, graduation rates from programs, gap) (62%)
- Develop a policy platform to work from and support to back it up. (42%)
What attendees had to say
“It was great to see so many folks with different expertise, interested in moving a green jobs agenda forward.”
“Some great minds that are passionate about creating a better future, what’s more hopeful than that?”
“It was great to gather with colleagues who do similar work, but we have few opportunities to come together.”
“I really enjoyed networking and seeing this side of environmental and conservation work. My organization doesn’t connect often with this group, and there are some really huge opportunities around promotion of green jobs!”