Denver U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the Department's participation in new agency partnerships to foster job growth for a new green economy at Tuesday's meeting of the Middle-Class Task Force in Denver. Along with the Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, the Department of Education has committed to developing new policies, proposals and ideas to help America's middle class.
"It was clear at our first meeting in Philadelphia that partnershipson the federal, state and local levelsare critical to creating green opportunity for middle-class Americans," Vice President Biden said. "This insight was an instructive one for our Task Force, and we've been hard at work turning this advice into action. Over the past three months, members of the Task Force and their staffs have come together to work on ways in which we can leverage programs at different agencies to ensure that green jobs are accessible to middle-class workers, as well as to lower-income workers trying to gain a foothold into the middle class."
The Department of Labor and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are partnering to bring training and employment to public housing residents. In a joint letter, Secretaries Solis and Donovan encouraged local Workforce Investment Boards and Public Housing Agencies to work together to bolster pathways to training and employment for residents of HUD housing. Through this new partnership, residents of public housing will be able to more easily find training programs and sustainable employment in the green job sectors created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). To read the letter, click this link.
Additionally, Secretaries Duncan, Chu and Solis announced a collaboration to make it a major priority to institutionalize cross-agency communication about private sector jobs created as the result of federal action. Through these efforts, jobs created will be connected to training programs and career pathways that can provide transitions for adults between employment and for students from high school to postsecondary education and into careers. Through this partnership, the Department of Energy will identify ways to notify the Department of Labor as funding commitments are made and jobs are created. The Department of Labor will, in turn, provide the information to local One Stop Employment Centers that will connect unemployed workers with jobs, training and education opportunities. The Department of Education will help identify the educational resources for training to ensure that educational opportunities linked to job creation are comprehensive. To read the Memorandum of Understanding, click this link.
"Schools must prepare students for college and careers, and adults must have affordable opportunities to continue learning if our country is to drive the global economy recovery," Secretary Duncan said. "Partnerships such as this one demonstrate how government can be a catalyst for renewal as workers reinvent themselves and learn new skills. At the same time, the creative minds of America's students will develop the emerging industries that feed a green economy if we support their growth."
The Labor Department also officially announced plans to release $500 million from the Recovery Act for grants to prepare workers for careers in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors. These funds are targeted to help underserved communities, and $50 million will assist communities affected by auto industry restructuring. The competition for grant money is anticipated to begin June 2009, with application closing dates starting during the late summer.
"Our workers are our nation's greatest asset, and investing in our nation's workforce is critical during these tough economic times," Secretary Solis said. "The $500 million grant competition being announced today is another way the Department of Labor is committed to helping workers from all backgrounds through difficult restructuring times and pave pathways to rebuild a stronger middle class."
"In these challenging economic times, it is crucial for government agencies to collaborate to find innovative ways to create jobs and get Americans working again," Secretary Donovan said. "I am proud of this new partnership, which will allow public housing residents to gain easier access to job training programs, build skills and participate in the new green jobs economy."
"Working together to foster more jobs, particularly in the renewable energies sector, means more bang for our buck and more help for middle-class families. That's what this Task Force is aboutdeveloping policies, coming up with ideas across the spectrum of agencies and working together to put them into action," Secretary Chu said. "While we make progress in strengthening our economy and putting more Americans back to work, we are cutting our dependence on foreign oil and combating climate change."
Through these partnerships, the Education Department, HUD, the Labor Department and the Energy Department are leveraging resources to connect workers to green career pathways and sustainable employment, advancing existing and future training and education programs, and helping to ensure employers have access to a qualified workforce for the green economy of the 21st century.