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City Awards $2.24 Million Toward Equitable Access to Clean Energy Training and Career Pathways

The City of Seattle is investing over $2.24 million to recruit, train, and place workers from communities who have experienced economic and environmental injustices into competitive paying construction and clean energy jobs.  

The investment represents a continued commitment by Mayor Bruce Harrell through the Payroll Expense Tax legislation for the City to make progress on its ambitious climate goals while also supporting residents most harmed by climate change and creating pathways into livable wage careers.  

“These investments serve two critical needs: doing everything we can as a City to respond to the climate crisis and creating new economic opportunities in clean energy for residents whose communities are the most impacted. The climate crisis requires bold action, innovation, and collaboration, and Seattle is proud to be a national leader when it comes to partnering with the private and public sectors to respond to some of our most pressing challenges.”  

-Mayor Bruce Harrell

The funds have the potential to prepare upwards of 260 workers for construction and clean energy jobs by providing workers with pre-apprenticeship training and job readiness supports administered by the six award recipients:   

  • Emerald Cities Collaborative – Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning 
  • Pacific Northwest Ironworkers Local 86 
  • Emerald Cities Collaborative – Electrical Pathways 
  • Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Employment for Women (ANEW) 
  • YouthCare’s YouthBuild 
  • Seattle Central College’s Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Training (PACT) 

Each of the organizations will be charged with prioritizing the placement of Priority Hire individuals into construction apprenticeship programs and/or clean energy jobs. Priority Hire is the City’s designation for workers historically underserved in construction careers—individuals residing in economically distressed ZIP codes, women, and/or Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC). 

Since its creation in 2013, the Priority Hire program has generated more than $101 million in wages for Priority Hire workers—an amount that the City estimates is $47 million more than would have been earned without it. Under the program, the City contracts with community organizations and construction pre-apprenticeship training programs to recruit, place and train Priority Hire workers in 20 different building trades, such as ironwork, carpentry, cement masonry and plumbing.  

“Today’s investment will help us as a City move the needle on racial and economic justice. These investments will ensure women and people of color can attain promising and livable family-wage jobs in Seattle and that we as a City are being responsive to the climate crisis.”

-Kiersten Grove, Director of Finance and Administrative Services

Examples of how the funds will be utilized include work by Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC), which will work with Puget Sound Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee to create pathways for up to 60 eligible workers to move into electrical positions. The positions are essential in the shift towards energy conservation, yet the region and nation face a shortage of residential electricians.   

“Expanding access to technical trades through specialized pre-apprenticeship enables more people across our diverse region to earn good money on quality jobs, including new roles fighting climate change.”

-Roz Jenkins, Senior Economic Inclusion Manager, Emerald Cities Collaborative PNW Region

The City passed Green New Deal legislation directing all City departments to work together to reach the goal of eliminating all city climate pollution by 2030. Building a climate workforce is a key tenant of Mayor Harrell’s One Seattle Climate Justice Agenda are centering those most impacted by climate change to take bold action that meets the scale of the climate crisis. 

“As the impacts of the climate crisis continue to intensify, we need a trained workforce to help make the imperative shift from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy. By investing in inclusive training and job opportunities, we are not only addressing the urgent climate crisis but also ensuring that those most affected by it have access to family-wage careers and pathways to success in the climate workforce.” 

-Jessyn Farrell, Director of the Office of Sustainability and Environment

“Meeting the demands of climate change and transitioning to an inclusive, green economy is a huge economic opportunity for our region, blending our environmental values with our innovative spirit. Investing in green jobs, like high wage clean energy and construction jobs, is one of many ways we can ensure that historically underserved communities can tap into that opportunity.” 

-Markham McIntyre, Director of the Office of Economic Development

The latest investments join a series of significant steps Seattle has made toward advancing climate justice and building an inclusive climate workforce. In May, Seattle was awarded nearly $3.2M to support residential and small businesses transition from fossil fuels to clean, energy efficient appliances. Last December, the City passed new Building Emissions Performance Standard (BEPS) legislation which will require Seattle’s largest existing buildings to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The city is also working to decarbonize all City-owned buildings by 2035, and support residents to transition off oil and fossil gas to all clean energy sources. These policies will create hundreds of local jobs that cannot be outsourced and will support workers directly in the Seattle area.