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Green Construction Provides Boost for Hartford Jobs Funnel

As the economy recovers, cities are experiencing a boom in the number of “green job” vacancies. At this time last year, SimplyHired.com, a job aggregating website, found that there were nearly 83,000 green job vacancies, compared to just 45,000 one year prior.

There are likely two reasons for the proliferation of green jobs: First, there are now more companies, especially startups, with a focus on environmental responsibility. Second, how people define green jobs has expanded to encompass more jobs. At ICIC, we define green jobs as “those that result in one or more of the following benefits—greater use of clean energy; energy savings; greater resource efficiency; less pollution; or the restoration of natural systems that support life. These benefits may result from a green product or service. They may also result from the improvements in the production process for ‘conventional’ goods and services.”

In order to tap into the potential of green jobs, Hartford, CT – whose unemployment rate remains a staggering 12.4% – is utilizing its local “Jobs Funnel” to train its most underserved residents.

The State of Connecticut anticipates green construction investments to total more than $1 billion annually, with nearly 20,000 new construction vacancies over the next decade. The Connecticut Department of Labor projects a 33% increase in the demand for trained workers. The Jobs Funnel will provide the training for these workers.

The Jobs Funnel began in 1999 and has since placed more than 2,600 un- or under-employed residents into apprenticeships and full-time employment. Given the success of the program, in which participants begin with an average starting wage of $14.70 per hour, it has been deemed a model adaptable for green jobs. Specifically, green construction jobs such as brownfield remediation, energy retrofits, energy management and weatherization.

Supported through a $5.8 million federal green jobs grant, the Jobs Funnel will train its inner city residents for in-demand certifications such as U.S. Green Building Council Green Tradesmen Certification, Photovoltaic Systems Certification, Board Energy Audit Technician Certification and the HVAC Testing and Balancing Certification. Ultimately, residents will be funneled into positions like solar panel installers and energy retrofitters, while also learning skills in carpentry, electrical, plumbing and ironworking.

ICIC research indicates that equipping residents with these skills can be a boon to inner cities. During research for the “Flint Clean Economy Project,” we found that green jobs are growing faster in inner cities compared to other industries. Within inner cities, green jobs experienced growth in the range of 6% to 12% from 1997 to 2008, whereas inner city job growth was only 1.3% during this time for all industries combined.

Cities that can pair a cohesive green jobs strategy to existing training platforms like the Hartford Jobs Funnel are, no doubt, most likely to reap the rewards of the growth in the green construction industry—and the benefits of having a greener, healthier economy.

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