How Green Are Tomorrow’s Jobs Today?

Several lawmakers, led by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat, announced a package of bills March 5, 2009, which they said, would “take the first steps towards linking our education system to hig-wage jobs in the emerging economies.” 

Like the so-called economic stimulus measures that accompanied last month’s budget, the reality is somewhat less than the hyperbole. 

Of the fives measures, Steinberg’s – the Clean Technology and Renewable Energy, Job Training, Career Technical Education, and Dropout Prevention Act of 2010 — is the most significant. 

It calls for up to $5 billion in bonds which would be given out as grants to public schools, community colleges, business, labor unions, the California Conservation Corps, non-profits and others who build new or fix up existing facilities and use them to provide career training to help participants in the program land “green” jobs in the fields of clean technology, renewable energy, or energy efficiency. 

“It’s a long-term agenda,” Steinberg said at a press conference touting the bill package. “We can’t be in silos anymore. We have to create agendas that cross all these issue areas.” 

(Editor’s Note: Which probably explains the legislation’s cumbersome title.) 

Some of the $80 million the Energy Commission uses in its Public Interest Energy Research Fund would be used to securitize the bonds. 

But it’s difficult to see as strong a link to expanding career opportunities in green industries in some of the other bills in the package.

A measure carried by Senator Loni Hancock, a Berkeley Democrat, requires high schools, community colleges and regional occupational centers to consult with their local Workforce Investment Board to make sure “at least 50 percent of the sequenced courses are in sectors where there is a high priority need for skilled persons.”

While the fact sheet on the measure handed out at the press conference does not say what sequenced courses are it appears from the bill to be a series of classes in 15 career sectors that, if successfully completed, leads to receipt of skill certificate showing technical proficiency in a given sector.

While the bill doesn’t say what the sectors are, the 2005 California Career Technical Education Model Curriculum Standards do: transportation, agriculture and natural resources; information technology, marketing and sales; manufacturing, public services, arts, media and entertainment; building trades and construction; education and children development; energy and utilities; engineering and design; fashion, finance, health science and hospitality.

Nor will one find which of these career sectors is a high priority at what the bill calls the Department of Labor and Workplace Development because such an entity does not exist. It is an agency with a cabinet secretary under which are several departments. Several searches of the agency, however, also fail to show which are high priority career paths.

Finally, as someone quipped at the press conference, one would think that schools and community colleges with their finite – and falling resources – would not need to be required to make sure the courses they were offering were in the highest priority areas for the state and their region because they would already be doing that. 

Senate Health Committee chair, Elaine Alquist, a Santa Clara Democrat, wants to require data kept by the Economic Development Department, one of the departments within the Labor and Workplace Development Agency, to provide information to improve the Healthcare Workforce Clearinghouse, a database which can help “assess the state’s health care workforce supply and demand in order to shape policy.”

Additionally, under her bill, licensing boards are to collect information on the “cultural and linguistic competency” of doctors, nurses, dentists and dental hygienists, among others.

The apparent purpose for collecting this information on “cultural and linguistic competency” is that, according to Alquist, African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans comprise only 9 percent of nurses, 6 percent of doctors and 5 percent of dentists.

“A number of studies have shown a strong correlation between greater diversity among health professionals and enhanced access to care for racial and ethnic minority patients, expanded patient choice and satisfaction, better patient-provider communication and better educational experience for all students in the medical school setting,” concludes the summary of the bill provided to reporters.

It’s unclear from reading the summary – and the legislation itself – how the beefed up information clearinghouse engenders greater diversity in the medical profession.

“We shouldn’t import professionals, we should grow our own,” Alquist said at the press conference.

Senator Gloria Romero, a Los Angeles Democrat, wants to create a pre-apprenticeship pilot project in high schools to help kids not drop out and seek employment in the aerospace industry, which, Romero says, is facing an “impending labor shortage of skilled machinists.”

As baby boomers retire, Romero notes, there will be a shortage of new workers to replace them.

The pilot project, will offer “aerospace-oriented career technical education curriculum to engage at-risk students and provide quality labor for entry level positions in an apprenticeship program with an aerospace employer.”

The legislation, SB 747, (Get it?) doesn’t say how this program will be paid for. It is still just a placeholder, a spot bill.

Romero’s second measure says that all institutions of public education, including community colleges, California State University and the University of California, should (Emphasis added) collaborate to help the California institute for Regenerative Medicine “advance its education initiatives.”

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is the entity that hands out the up to $3 billion in bond funding to spur stem cell research approved by voters in November 2004.

According to Romero’s bill, the institute’s education initiatives may (Emphasis added) include but, are not limited to, all of the following:

“(1) Developing and implementing a curriculum that includes stem cell topics.

(2) Developing and implementing pilot projects related to curriculum and teacher professional development.

(3) Providing high school pupils with laboratory research opportunities.

(4) Conducting outreach programs between high schools and institutions of higher education.

(5) Developing programs in magnet or charter schools with a math-science focus and in partnership academies.

(6) Developing distance learning opportunities using the K-12 High Speed Network.”

None of the bills have yet been scheduled for a committee hearing. 




Filed under: Budget and Economy


  1. Sigh.

    Comment by Robyn Boyer — 3.06.2009 @ 6:49 pm

  2. Funny how green jobs and licensing of dentists have something in common.

    Comment by Dental plan — 10.09.2009 @ 10:41 am

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