Prop 39 Success Stories: workers trained across California for careers in green jobs

Prop 39 Success Stories: workers trained across California for careers in green jobs

By Anne McMonigle

In 2012, California voters passed Proposition 39, the California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Prop 39), closing a tax loophole that rewarded companies for hiring outside of California. This proposition promised to use the new revenue to create green jobs and lessen our budget deficit. Just a few years later, California voters will be happy to hear that Prop 39 continues to deliver on its promise.

On December 31, 2015 we saw the wrap-up of the first round of the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) Proposition 39 Pre-Apprenticeship Pilot. Although the least funded of the Prop 39 job training programs (additional funding went to the California Conservation Corps and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office), this CWDB Pilot sought to grapple with two key questions:

1.) Can quality pre-apprenticeship lead to placement into registered joint-apprenticeship programs?

2.) Can the workforce community effectively partner with registered apprenticeship?

In short, the answer to both of these questions is yes, through the leadership and involvement of labor unions in their communities.

Prop 39 funds were intended for the implementation of “earn-and-learn” apprenticeship-prep leading to the placement of disadvantaged jobseekers into careers related to energy efficiency. As a result, CWDB funded six (6) training implemen­tation projects including a program to build a pipeline for at-risk youth and another to assist veterans and disadvantaged jobseekers earn industry-valued credentials that would help them enter into Joint-Labor Management Registered Apprenticeship Programs, continued education, or other energy-efficient careers. Training pilot regions included the Central Valley, Sacramento, East Bay, South Bay, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Part of the recipe for success for these programs included strong community partnerships. Local apprenticeship communities, local Building Trades Councils, workforce development boards, community colleges, the Conservation Corps and other community-based organizations all worked together to ensure the success of these training programs.

During the period of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, mistakes were made in how pre-apprenticeship was rolled out. Key among them, were that registered apprenticeship programs were not involved in the creation of curriculum, and joint-labor management programs were not a required partner in pre-apprenticeship grant applications. This was a disservice to jobseekers and employers alike, as jobseekers did not receive the appropriate skills necessary to be successful in construction apprenticeships. Hiring was also frozen as the construction industry was at a historic low – a simple yet unfortunate effect of supply not meeting demand. Applying these hard lessons learned to the Prop 39 funds has been crucial to the program’s success. Implementation awardees had to show a demand in their region for new apprentices, and labor was a required partner as both the end-game employer (through placements in joint-apprenticeship), and providers of the industry recognized curriculum: The Multi-Craft Core Curriculum.

The Workforce and Economic Development Department with the California Labor Federation (WED) recently released a summary report of lessons learned and project success stories from the first round of funding, which can be found here. Check it out to see real world examples of how these programs have impacted the lives of so many workers, like Amber J in Sacramento:

“With the support I’ve received from SETA and the Prop 39 Grant, I am [on the verge of] starting my dream career as a Union Carpenter Apprentice. There is no limit to where I go from here.”

Through access to quality training and help with job-placement, working people across California are on a path to a career that promises a living wage with benefits, made possible by California voters passing Prop 39 and investing in green jobs.

The second cycle of the Proposition 39 Clean Energy Job Creation Fund was released in late 2015, and new training awardees will be announced by the CWDB in the coming weeks. Development funds are open through May 2, 2016, and building trades councils and labor partners can be lead applicants on this. For more information on developing a MC3 partnership, contact Anne McMonigle: amcmonigle@calaborfed.org.