On June 18, 2009, the New York State Public Service Commission PSC authorized $6.6 million in funding for New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)’s workforce development initiatives related to energy efficiency programs.
With respect to workforce training, NYSERDA currently provides training largely on a per-program basis, and training funds are contained within efficiency program budgets. The need for an increase in workforce development funds is a direct result of the ongoing and rapid expansion of energy efficiency programs across New York.
As part of the workforce training initiative, NYSERDA will collaborate with New York State Department of Labor’s (DOL) One-Stop Workforce Development System which targets workers to participate in training and certification programs. Those programs focus on training in skills necessary for entry-level employment in the energy efficiency sector and are directed toward individuals in economically and environmentally disadvantaged communities.
The PSC determined that because of the rapid expansion of efficiency programs as a result of previous PSC orders and the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), additional assistance was required to overcome barriers to workforce training in a timely manner that will allow the PSC’s efficiency targets to be met in a cost-effective way. According to the PSC, studies have identified numerous barriers to the rapid enhancement of a skilled workforce. These barriers include: the cost of training; lost-opportunity costs of time committed to training; wages paid to workers while being trained; availability of training infrastructure; cost of tools; and lack of basic skills training to prepare workers for technical training.
An assessment performed by DOL found that with current resources there would be shortages of specially trained workers in the majority of occupations in the energy efficiency sector. In particular, DOL identified potential shortages of electricians, plumbers, pipe fitters and steam fitters, and HVAC and refrigeration mechanics and installers, trained to implement energy efficiency programs.