The Department of Workforce Services recently received a $4.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to develop a program that will provide training for green jobs.
The Arkansas Energy Sector Partnership grant, which totals $4,866,479, is funded with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars and will provide training in the following areas: energy efficient building, construction and retrofitting; renewable electric power; and energy efficiency assessment.
"The Arkansas Energy Sector Partnership grant offers the state the opportunity to create a workforce training system in green industry," DWS Director Artee Williams said. "This U.S. Department of Labor grant will enable the partners to develop a system of training that reflects industry needs, as established businesses begin to implement green practices and as new green industries develop. This grant provides the initial building blocks of green skills training that will be sustained beyond the life of the grant."
A total of 2,800 Arkansans will be recruited, including job seekers, incumbent workers, high school dropouts, offenders, disadvantaged and dislocated workers, and individuals living in auto-impacted counties such as Cleburne, Desha, Greene and Logan counties.
The Arkansas Energy Sector Partnership has been established to develop and implement the program. The partnership includes representatives from the Department of Workforce Services, Arkansas Workforce Investment Board, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges, Arkansas Apprenticeship Coalition, Arkansas State Office of Apprenticeship, Winrock International, Arkansas Department of Career Education, and nine Regional Partnership Teams, which include the 10 Local Workforce Investment Boards, nonprofits, and energy efficient and renewable energy industries.
Curriculum and programs will be developed by Arkansas' 22 two-year colleges and the seven apprenticeship programs (electrician, welding, plumbing and pipefitting, heating, AC and ventilation, painting and sheet metal) to train participants for careers in the three targeted industries. Training will include on-the-job training, classroom training, customized training with an existing registered apprenticeship program or labor-management partnership, technology-based learning or other appropriate strategies.
The three Energy Centers of Excellence located at Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock, Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas at Helena and Northwest Arkansas Community College at Bentonville have been recognized as leaders in developing training programs targeting green jobs.
The centers will assist with developing the curriculum to train workers for energy efficiency industries, energy auditors, energy raters and weatherization workers. The centers will provide training to the rest of the two-year colleges, labor organizations and apprenticeship programs.
To assist with the development and rollout around the state, nine Regional Partnership Teams have been created to determine the training needs in their areas, recruit participants, contract with training providers, and work with the two-year colleges and apprenticeship programs to coordinate job placement. The teams consist of representatives from the Local Workforce Investment Boards and their Workforce Centers, two-year colleges, labor organizations, nonprofit organizations, and the Industrial Advisory Committee, which is comprised of five members representing the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries.
In addition to overseeing the program's implementation, DWS will assist the two-year colleges with identifying job openings statewide in the targeted green industries. The Arkansas Workforce Centers and labor organizations will assist with job placement once participants complete the program.
Supportive services, such as child care and transportation services, will be available to those who qualify. Winrock International will provide those services, as well as coordinate with nonprofit organizations and oversee the recruitment of disadvantaged individuals.
Partner agencies currently are developing the program, which should be available in the fall.