White House debuts a new climate-based workforce initiative
President Joe Biden called for new executive action Wednesday to establish what the White House calls an American Climate Corps to help train and qualify people for clean energy jobs.
The White House detailed plans Wednesday for a new workforce training initiative to develop a talent pipeline for jobs in the clean energy and conservation economy.
Dubbed the American Climate Corps, the initiative plans to offer skills-based training to more than 20,000 people in its first year through job training and service opportunities that will feed into careers centered on “conserving and restoring our lands and waters, bolstering community resilience, deploying clean energy, implementing energy efficient technologies and advancing environmental justice.”
The American Climate Corps will operate as part of Biden administration’s Justice40 initiative, a plan to make 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments go to underserved communities impacted by climate issues and pollution.
“The American Climate Corps will focus on equity and environmental justice – prioritizing communities traditionally left behind, including energy communities that powered our nation for generations, leveraging the talents of all members of our society and prioritizing projects that help meet the administration’s Justice40 goal,” White House officials said in a statement.
The plan for the American Climate Corps to provide training and service opportunities for people to work on a litany of climate-based projects including restoring coastal wetlands, deploying clean energy, managing forests to help prevent wildfires, implementing energy efficient solutions to reduce costs, and others.
To help channel potential applicants to these initiatives, the federal government plans to launch a recruitment website with information about specific projects, while also coordinating across multiple agencies to spotlight job opportunities.
The departments of Labor, Interior, Agriculture and Energy will sign a memorandum of understanding with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and AmeriCorps to help create what White House officials call an “American Climate Corps hub” that will help coordinate federal recruitment.
The Office of Personnel Management will also use proposed rulemaking to help speed pathways to jobs in supported state, local, or tribal service programs, and the American Climate Corps will coordinate with established climate programs in five states and additional incoming state programs.
To also help boost recruitment, the White House is proposing that AmeriCorps expand its Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards — which cover education, training and student loan costs — to eligible American Climate Corps applicants, while also working with labor unions, nonprofit service allies, the private sector and philanthropy enterprises to collaborate on climate-based partnerships to help expand training and job opportunities.
The executive order comes as the administration has also leveraged $500 million federal grant programs to boost climate-based apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship opportunities within the departments of Labor, Energy and Interior, as well as the U.S. Forest Service and AmeriCorps.