Yesterday, Governor Newsom signed the 2019-20 California State Budget. Beyond the big headline items, an initiative critical to working people, communities of color, and our climate future was included: $35 million for high road workforce training partnerships.
Working Partnerships and our state coalition the California Partnership for Working Families joined with a broad alliance of community, labor, environmental and equity organizations in advocating to fund High Road Training Partnerships and Construction Careers.
The High Road Training Partnerships (HRTPs) aim to ensure our most vulnerable populations have access to quality jobs that support families and communities — and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As California works to transform to a clean, carbon-neutral economy, the new funding will support regional partnerships between labor, community, and employers to prepare under-represented community members for careers in the State’s growing industries: jobs and skills that will be essential to enable those industries to transform to meet the State’s climate goals.
Our Trades Orientation Program is built on the High-Road Construction Careers (HRCC) model: building a coordinated pipeline for members of disadvantaged communities into high-skilled careers. That pipeline has successfully recruited, prepared, trained and placed over 125 local community members into skilled trades apprenticeships, with over half the participants coming out of homelessness or housing programs to become part of the future energy efficiency and green building workforce.
One of those participants, Bobby, is a 20-year old, former foster youth who joined the Trades Orientation Program to try to find a career and a direction. After the program, he became an apprentice and was hired by a drywall contractor onto a County building project, receiving on-the-job training to install new types of drywall materials engineered to increase building performance and energy efficiency. Bobby did not have a car, but through working with the program’s coaches, he was able to meet up at the shop and share rides with coworkers to get to his job. Bobby says he loves working in drywall, his coworkers treat him like family, and the apprenticeship is everything and more than he expected.
Bobby’s story illustrates the path for California to follow to reach our ambitious climate goals: a path that puts the participation of all Californians in the new economy front and center. The State’s new budget leads us along that path by enabling the HRCC and HRTP models to ramp up via local partnerships throughout the state, building a framework to ensure California grows our own highly skilled, climate-ready local workforce in every region.
Building a workable low-carbon economy will require the concerted efforts of millions of workers over many decades. If California is to make a successful transition to that green, sustainable future, workers’ voices must be central to that conversation.