Aligning Workforce Development

Since 2014, the Energy and Efficiency Institute has partnered with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) to ensure students going into the energy field are well trained, have a solid foundation in the principles and practices of efficiency, and have exposure to potential employers and career pathways. The initial project of this collaboration was a gap analysis, completed in 2015, with the assistance of the California Lighting Technology Center and the Western Cooling Efficiency Center in which researchers interviewed instructors and studied course offerings and syllabi to determine opportunities for improvement within the community college system.

“The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation, with 2.1 million students attending 113 colleges. These colleges provide students with the knowledge and background necessary to compete in today's economy.”

Key Accomplishments

Hosted Community College Educators from Around the Country

In January 2016, UC Davis hosted approximately 60 community college educators from across the country attending the Building Efficiency for a Sustainable Tomorrow (BEST) Center’s Annual Institute. This Institute focused on “High Performance Building Technician Education: Skills for Energy Management & Building Operations” and provided educators with the opportunity to hear about the research being done at the EEI and its affiliated Centers, with a focus on ways in which these developments will affect building operations in the coming years and decades. The group was also given the opportunity to tour the California Lighting Technology Center, Western Cooling Efficiency Center, and West Village.

Completed a Market Brief on the “Market Opportunities for Entry-Level Auditors”

At the end of the year, the EEI completed a Market Brief for the CCCCO on the “Market Opportunities for Entry-Level Energy Auditors.” This work was inspired by the success of the California Conservation Corp’s Energy Corps program through Proposition 39 and spurred by the idea that there may be an opportunity for the community colleges to train students to conduct basic building energy audits that would lead to reliable work as the state ramps up its efficiency efforts. Researchers found that it is difficult for employers to find capable energy auditors and that there is a lack of skilled auditing professionals currently in the marketplace. Those interviewed for the report generally agreed that the Community Colleges were probably best positioned to address this need. The EEI recommended a pilot training program that would infuse auditing curriculum into existing trade programs and create a new market-aligned Commercial Buildings Assessor Program.

“It is difficult for employers to find capable energy auditors and there is a lack of skilled auditing professionals currently in the marketplace. The Community Colleges are well-positioned to address this need.”

Convened a Workshop “Ensuring High Performance Buildings through a Skilled Workforce”

In August 2016, the EEI convened a workshop entitled “Ensuring High Performance Buildings through a Skilled Workforce.” This event brought together energy companies, government officials, NGOs, consulting firms, financial institutions, utility companies, and labor representatives to discuss the state’s recent efficiency mandates for existing buildings and what these mandates mean for the energy workforce. The workshop tackled the questions: Do we have an appropriate number of trained personnel to meet the state’s building energy goals? What are the occupational and skilled workforce needs, both for incumbents and new entrants, that have to be addressed? How do we ensure coordination among the entities that need to be involved to ensure the state’s workforce challenge is addressed?

Upcoming Activities

The next phase of research aims to develop and execute a legislative and regulatory strategy that enables the Community College system to create a public-private partnership. This partnership will align the state’s major education and training resources with California’s Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction mandates. The outcomes of this project will be research that: enables data-driven decisions for investment in priority opportunities, eliminates major barriers and creates evidence-based models. In addition, education, training, and workforce development will be integrated across multiple state agencies, colleges, universities, apprenticeship programs, ratepayer-funded training, community-based organizations, and workforce development boards. Finally, the work will seek to integrate multiple funding streams to create optimum leverage among education, training, and workforce development programs.

For more information, please contact Siva Gunda.