Prince George's County to Graduate County's First Class of MESP-Trained 'Go Solar!' Workers


Program funded through Maryland Department Labor ‘Green Job Training’ grant

LANHAM, Md. (April 28, 2011) – Touting important progress toward Governor Martin O’Malley’s ambitious goal of creating 100,000 green jobs in Maryland by 2015, Maryland Labor Secretary Alexander M. Sanchez will speak at a celebration this evening honoring the first class of graduates from the Prince George’s County Maryland Energy Sector Partnership (MESP) Go Solar! training program. More than 200 Marylanders have already graduated from additional Go Solar! training programs across the state.

The Prince George’s County MESP Solar Generation and Electric Construction Training – Go Solar! – program is a partnership between the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board (GWIB), the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation Workforce Services Division (PGCEDC-WSD) and the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) Local Union 26 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). This training program is the first Go Solar! project in the state to exclusively target new workers.

“In order to compete for tomorrow’s jobs, workers need to invest in themselves today. The New Economy will demand a more highly-skilled workforce. Go Solar! is building a workforce that will compete for green, American jobs,” said Maryland Labor Secretary Alexander M. Sanchez. “I applaud the partnerships with Local 26 and the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation that made this program possible and congratulate Prince George’s County’s first 30 graduates who are in a more competitive position today than they were yesterday.”

“We are excited about this project. It is one of a dozen other state, local government and private sector initiatives funded by a Green Job Training grant that the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board (GWIB) received from the U.S. Department of Labor,” said GWIB Executive Director Lynn Reed. “The purpose of the grant is to train workers in the skills required in the emerging energy efficiency and renewable energy industries.”

The Go Solar! training program is specifically designed to jumpstart participating jobseekers’ careers by equipping them with skills hiring contractors demand, including electrical theory, photovoltaic installation techniques and basic tool recognition. Participants are led on a path toward registered apprenticeships. Upon graduation, participants are connected with employers who provide full-time, non-subsidized employment with full benefits and clearly defined paths for advancement.

“Training programs need to combine real-world, on-the-job experience that provides a livable wage with classroom instruction. Our graduates have gained the basic skills needed to be safe, productive employees for any employer doing work in the field of electrical construction and photovoltaic installation. Employers are already eager to hire them as entry-level workers and most graduates received fulltime employment well before the training was completed,” said Sean P. Myers, Special Projects Coordinator, NECA, IBEW Local Union 26, Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee. “The JATC 26 has ‘lit the runway’ toward our registered apprenticeship programs for these participants so that they can use the documentable work experience and successful academic performance to ‘earn while they learn’ in the new green economy.”

“This program demonstrates the effectiveness of the workforce investment system to meet the demands of job seekers, as well as employers, through strategic partnerships. The success of the program was built upon the partnership formed by PGCEDC-WSD, JATC and GWIB – and further expanded through the addition of the employers who hired program participants while they were still in training,” said Patricia N. White, Executive Director, PGCEDC-WDS. “Training programs must be responsive to the demands of business and industry, while preparing individuals for jobs with a clear career path. The MESP Solar Generation and Electric Construction Training Program accomplished that and much more. We intend to replicate that success with the second class which starts on May 23.”

Graduates of the Prince George’s County Go Solar! training program will have completed 90 hours of training and be enrolled as Residential Trainees with IBEW Local 26. In addition to developing workplace skills, graduates of the program will receive OSHA 10 and first aid/CPR certifications.

Funding for the state’s Go Solar! programs is provided by the Maryland Energy Sector Partnership grant, which was awarded to Maryland Labor Department through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The $5.8 million DOL grant will help prepare more than 1,500 Marylanders for green jobs in manufacturing, construction, environmental technology and solar energy. Grant funding is divided into four key areas:

  • The Baltimore Regional Green Tech Workers Program is improving manufacturing sustainability practices, waste stream management and “lean to green” practices in the manufacturing sector and provide training for 705 incumbent and new workers.
  • Green Training for Energy Efficient Advancement will train 850 workers to retrofit residential, commercial and industrial buildings to meet demands due to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) movements and increased energy initiatives of major utilities to comply with the Empower Maryland legislation.
  • Chesapeake Area Consortium for Higher Education (CACHE): Institute for Environmental Careers will help 210 students earn community college certificates in environmental technology.
  • Go Solar! Regional Partnership will utilize existing renewable energy curriculum, mostly from the Institute for Environmental Careers’ existing courses and provide training for 480 new and incumbent workers.

These green job training programs also support the Skills2Compete Maryland initiative – a collaborative effort to expand skills training and continuing education by 20 percent by 2012 which is led by Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown and administered by the GWIB.

The Maryland Energy Sector Partnership, led by the GWIB, is a comprehensive and representative partnership of state and local workforce agencies, business and industry leaders, labor organizations, educational institutions and community organizations.

The GWIB, a division of the Maryland Department of Labor, is a business-led board of 45 members, a majority of whom represent the business community, as mandated by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA). Other members include the governor and the lieutenant governor, cabinet secretaries, college presidents, the state superintendent of schools, elected officials, labor representatives and representatives of nonprofit organizations. The GWIB is responsible for developing policies and strategies to form a coordinated workforce system from a variety of education, and employment and training programs. It brings together and focuses various workforce development partners and stakeholders on two key outcomes: a properly prepared workforce that meets the current and future demands of Maryland employers, and providing opportunities for all Marylanders to succeed in the 21st century workforce.

DLLR also received a $4 million grant awarded by USDOL in November 2010 to the MidAtlantic Regional Collaboration (MARC) Green Consortium to define the regional green economy and develop a workforce investment plan to support it. That consortium includes the Virginia Employment Commission, the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services, the District of Columbia’s Workforce Investment Council, the Maryland Governor’s Workforce Investment Board and the Virginia Workforce Council.