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County Council unanimously approves Councilmember Hucker’s green jobs bill

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Apprenticeship program will help fill industry demand,
give workers needed skills

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 19, 2018 — With green jobs playing an ever-greater role in our economy, a steady supply of skilled workers is essential. With that in mind, the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday approved a bill introduced by Councilmember Tom Hucker, who serves as the Council’s Lead for Environment on the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, that will establish a clean energy apprenticeship readiness program within Worksource Montgomery.

“This program will meet two critical needs in our County,” Hucker said. “It will help provide the skilled workers that our construction companies need, as the industry increasingly incorporates greener technologies.

“And it will give our jobless and underemployed residents a great opportunity to train for a well-paying career and climb up the economic ladder, as the need for these workers will only continue to grow for years to come,” he said.

On top of that, promoting more green building technologies is good for the environment and will help the County meet its goal of zero carbon emissions by 2035, Hucker added.

The program will focus on training unemployed and underemployed youth and transitioning adults, including those leaving incarceration. The goal is to set them up for success in Maryland Apprenticeship Training Council-registered apprenticeship programs and eventual long-term employment in the clean-energy construction industry.

The bill defines green jobs as those related to renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, resource conservation, environmental protection and advanced transportation.

For example, program graduates will learn to work on solar systems, green roofs, geothermal systems, rainwater catchments, pervious pavement, building thermal walls, wind, natural gas, sewer treatment and other types of environmental technology

“This is a great program,” said Council President Hans Riemer, a member of the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee, which voted 3-0 to support the proposal on June 11.

Councilmember George Leventhal, another committee member, agreed with the need for the pre-apprenticeship program, saying SolarCity, a Tesla subsidiary, is “hiring like mad,” according to a relative who works there.

The White House Task Force on the Middle Class said in 2009 that “green jobs have the potential to be quality, family-sustaining jobs that also help improve our environment. They are largely domestic jobs that can't be offshored. They tend to pay more than other jobs, even controlling for worker characteristics.”

The program is not expected to cost taxpayers anything, according to a fiscal analysis by the County’s Office of Management and Budget. The program is expected to cost from $10,000 to $17,500 annually, with Worksource Montgomery seeking grants or sponsorships to cover expenses, particularly from the State of Maryland’s EARN (Employment Advancement Right Now) program.

“By demonstrating County Council and County Executive support for Green Jobs Apprenticeships, we will put Worksource Montgomery in a stronger position to win competitive grants from the Maryland Department of Labor to train the next generation of skilled workers,” said Hucker.

At a public hearing last month, all four speakers — representing the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, CASA, the Sierra Club Montgomery County Group and Community Hub for Opportunities in Construction Employment, which works with 28 local building trades unions in the region — enthusiastically supported the proposal.

“This is the right time for this innovative program, with significant development scheduled in the coming years in County buildings, schools, neighborhoods surrounding the Purple Line, downtown Wheaton and White Oak, all of which will have a significant focus on using renewable energy sources,” Hucker said.

More information on the bill is here: bit.ly/2K81CXO

Contact: Robert Rand, 240-777-7937

Release ID: 18-185
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 2407777926