By Peter Ayoola
Leaders in Energy’s (LE) 9th annual Green Jobs Forum was held virtually on September 22, 2022.
LE’s Executive Director, Janine Finnell, welcomed attendees to the Forum with excitement about this year’s program. She referenced the quotation of Charles Dickens from his novel, The Tale of Two Cities, that “It was the best of times and the worst of times…” to refer to the impacts of climate change that we are increasingly experiencing as “the worst of times” and the new federal legislation with considerable financial intervention to address the country’s needed climate actions and create new green jobs as giving us hope for the “best of times.”
The Green Jobs Forum was divided into three panelist groups which were drawn from government, the private sector, non-profit organizations, and academia.
After her opening remarks, Janine moderated the first panel and who introduced themselves and their roles in the creation of green job paths as summarized below:
- Darrell Beschen – Senior Advisor/Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Energy. Spoke about the DOE Clean Energy Corps and the 1000+ jobs being added. The Corps is intended to provide an environment in which the next generation can succeed
- Hannah Malvin, Program Manager for The Bridge Program. She talked about new public-private partnerships and equitable hiring pathways in the environmental sector for people of color and underrepresented communities.
- Patty Simonton, Director of Bethesda Green’s Be Green Business Program. She described the Innovation Lab, which guides entrepreneurs who are tackling environmental and social challenges to begin a green business.
- Antoine Thompson, Executive Director, Greater Washington Region Clean Cities Coalition (GWRCCC). He spoke about the mission of the GWRCCC and about green employment opportunities arising through the coalition. He got involved in Green Job movement fifteen years ago as a State senator in New York where he supported state laws to facilitate Green businesses and Green jobs. He says “nothing can beat the jobs in the Green field.”
Darrell Bechen started by expressing his gratitude to Leaders in Energy for an opportunity to speak to the next generation about green jobs and their potential to provide fulfilling work. He shared a video message from Department of Energy Secretary, Jennifer Granholm, that detailed various programs that will be part of new Federal government legislation, fund allocations, and diverse openings and opportunities for all interested parties.
Darrell provided guidance on how an applicant can make use of the DOE Clean Energy Corps jobs portal and stated that openings are not limited to individuals currently in the energy sector and include opportunities also to those with skills across different sectors. All the positions in the portal are available to those with transferrable skills. Applicants are expected to receive a response within 4 weeks after application. These processes were accelerated despite the long queue of applicants. Stages of the process include a technical review where DOE personnel persons will check qualifications and an interview to determine suitability.
Darrell’s presentation covered new Federal legislation paired to climate action and good jobs via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
The Five Big Energy Focus Areas of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill are: 1) Clean Energy Demonstrations, 2) Grid Infrastructure, 3) Manufacturing and Supply Chains, 4) Energy Research and Development, and 5) State, Community, and Tribal Programs.
As a matter of fact, significant amounts of money in the Inflation Reduction Act (over $370 billion) are to be deployed in Green Energy Funding to circulate in the economy. These are permanent jobs and these monies would be deployed over five years.
Darrell outlined 12 areas of emphasis in the IRA legislation as follows below:
- Energy Infrastructure (USDOE)
- Infrastructure Reinvestment Loan Guarantee Program (USDOE)
- Innovative Energy Technologies (Greenhouse Gas Reduction/Avoidance) (USDOE)
- Methane (EPA)
- Vehicle and vehicle component manufacturing (USDOE)
- Vehicle Manufacturing – hybrid, electric and hydrogen fuel (USDOE)
- Energy Infrastructure – Transmission (USDOE)
- Industrial and Manufacturing – Non-power (USDOE)
- Alternative Fuels – Aviation (US Department of Commerce)
- Transportation Infrastructure – Ports (EPA)
- Energy Projects Development (USDOE)
- Renewable Energy; zero-emission; carbon capture (USDA)
His presentation, downloadable here, also provides extensive links to the BIL program focus areas and investments.
Hannah Malvin described her involvement with The Bridge Program which was launched several years ago and founded by Greening Youth Foundation which has seventeen years of experience in connecting people of color with jobs in environment sector. While focusing on people of color and other underrepresented communities, the program addresses two components: actual hiring and supporting employers. The Hiring component includes – posting jobs, vetting applicants, recruiting, pre-screening and interviewing candidates biannually for employers involved in power, energy, natural resources and outdoor industries and government agencies. The program provides support for learning and gathering human resources (HR) to assist in the equitable hiring of people of color and underrepresentation and support to the candidate via coaching, resume writing, and cover letter writing.
Patty Simonton discussed how community outreach programs designed to sustain climate initiatives benefit from the participation of local partners. In 2021, Bethesda Green, in partnership with One Montgomery Green, was one of 18 awardees nationwide of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) “Inclusive Innovation Challenge.” Through this project, they are spearheading local efforts to deploy clean energy innovations. She expressed with passion that there are a lot of sustainability-focused employment opportunities with a variety of organizations and encouraged attendees not to be discouraged if they do not see their specific skills in green job descriptions. She also mentioned that the circular economy was another opportunity described as working with nature that has with the goal of recycling everything for reuse without exploiting natural resources. On the topic of green job opportunities, Patty recently made a job transition of her own around the time of the Forum and is now working as a Strategic Initiatives Manager at the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation.
Speaking on the DOE Clean Cities Coalition Programs. Antoine Thompson, then discussed his coalition’s involvement in the development of renewable energy projects and how it works with small and large business. Some of its workforce development efforts are Green Job fairs in various cities in United States and internship programs for college students to gain access to vital information relating to clean energy. The Coalition partners with the University of California system where every semester students are coached to be Green Future Leaders with valid exposure to educational experience and empowerment. Participants are encouraged to take advantage of the available job coaching and opportunities to upgrade skills to protect our environment and promote our economy. The Coalition efforts are also tailored to young people in high schools to promote their interest and sustain the drive for green jobs.
In conclusion, the panelists encouraged applicants to let their interest be known in all available jobs since the openings are full spectrum. They should project their skills so that their enthusiasm can be determined since there are so many companies in the clean energy industry that need individuals in different fields such as construction, bookkeeping etc. Interested parties should not limit their vision but rather do their homework and pursue the job. It was relayed that even if one’s skills do not meet 100 percent of the requested qualifications by the employer, that one should still apply.
As an attendee of the Forum, I urge those who “are hungry” for an amazing green job to go for it.
Peter Ayoola is a volunteer with Leaders in Energy located in Nigeria. He is currently is employed by the third largest power distribution company in West Africa (AEDC – Abuja Electricity Distribution Company) as a Compliance/Change Manager. He leads a team to drive compliance of processes, policies and simplifies the Standard Operating Procedures for adoption. He graduated with a statistics degree and has 11 years of work experiences at different sectors of the economy with keen interest in the optimization of resources, especially the recycling of used items.