Green Pathways Out of Poverty: Work force Development Iniatives. By Green For All, 2009.
Green economy, green jobsthese are convenient buzz words in todays
society. However, to low income earners, these words have a deeper
meaning. A green economy translates into financial and employment
stability. Green jobs can provide low income earners with opportunities
they may not have been given otherwise.
Green Pathways out of Poverty is a summary of a two day conference held by Green For All. The conference brought together workforce practitioners to discuss poverty, the workforce and green jobs. Green jobs have become a new avenue of employment, and so it becomes necessary to include the green economy when discussing and developing workforce initiatives.
After two days of discussion, practitioners were able to identify five needs of work force development in this new sector of the economy.
Understand the needs of the target population
Work force development teams must understand the needs of their target population, from high school students and immigrants to the formerly incarcerated. The needs of each individual group may have similarities and differences. Understanding how to address their specific needs can be quite challenging, particularly when these populations are quite large. The goal is to remove as many barriers as possible to ensure an easy shift into the work force. Strong support systems will ensure a successful transition. In order to provide that support (as well as long term employment success), work force practitioners must have programs in place that deal with recruitment and retention. These programs require skilled and knowledgeable staff as well as readily available resources. Support systems are easier to maintain when they are connected to a larger support network.
Build a strong relationship with the industry and with representatives in the industry.
Building a strong relationship with industry and labour unions ensures that graduates can have access to jobs in the industry that they train for. Workforce initiatives can act as a broker between industry and job seekers. A strong relationship can also benefit industry and labour unions. Although labour unions have an established relationship with employers through collective bargaining agreements, workforce iniatives can increase union membership, union jobs, and awareness that there are good jobs available in the unionized work force.
Education is comprised of three areas: job readiness, certification and training.
Job readiness prepares workers for what is expected of them in the workforce. Job readiness can include basic education and language classes.
Certification is a two part process: a) workers must have access to good teachers that help them understand the knowledge required in order to obtain certification; and b) good teachers must have up-to-date current curriculum to deliver. Allowing workers access to a variety of industry certifications is also important.
Training is often skill specific. In addition to ensuring job readiness and helping with certification, workforce iniatives can help identify specific skills that employers require so that workers can be successful either in workforce entry or advancement.
Defining a programs success takes more than just doing good work Programs can be deemed successful when outcomes can be measured. The key to good program measurement is deciding whats important; program funders often decide what matters. In the green economy, programs must quantify the value in job development and the value for clean energy
Program sustainability requires financial backing. In order to be attractive to potential funders, program architects must design a program whose success can measured, and must have the means to establish good relationships with potential funders.
Factoring in green economy job creation iniatives can only be a benefit to work force practitioners, job seekers and companies looking to diversify. Job and industry diversification become essential to maintain competitive advantages in an ever changing global economy. Finding different ways to break barriers and tap hidden work forces have almost become a requirement. A program such as this would be beneficial for the province of Alberta to consider.
Review by Michelle Harkness