BlueGreen Alliance | Washington State Bridges the Transition to Clean Energy Jobs with the Climate-Ready Communities Act

Washington State Bridges the Transition to Clean Energy Jobs with the Climate-Ready Communities Act

May 5, 2023

Governor Jay Inslee yesterday signed the Climate-Ready Communities Act, legislation that establishes the Washington Climate Corps Network. The Washington Climate Corps Network will identify and grow climate-related service opportunities for young adults and veterans. People participating in the program will help create clean energy, low-carbon, climate-resilient communities around the state. The program is expected to launch in March 2024 and the bill was originally sponsored by State Representative Vandana Slatter.

The Climate-Ready Communities Act also authorizes the Clean Energy Technology Workforce Advisory Committee, tasked with guiding policymakers and administrators of the Climate Corps Network toward the best way to grow good-paying jobs in new sectors and prevent displacing workers.

“Our state cannot meet its clean energy infrastructure goals without the building trades workforce,” said Erin Fraiser, Assistant Executive Secretary for the Building and Construction Trades Council. “This legislation will ensure impacts to the workforce are included in the state’s climate policy decisions and creates the space for apprenticeship programs and other training providers to have a voice in the state’s training investments. The building trades apprenticeship programs, with their direct connection with industry, are already modifying curriculum to train existing and future workers in clean technology skills and careers and this bill ensures they are included in state planning.”

Under the new law, The State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board will be required to present biannually projected clean energy workforce needs to the State Legislature and the Governor’s Office. This analysis will include:

  • a report on wage and benefit structures in clean energy sectors,
  • demographics of both traditional and clean energy sectors, and
  • an inventory of specific skills that will be needed in clean energy and technology sector jobs.

“This law represents a significant step forward for Washington energy workers,” said Washington State Coalition Organizer Maya Gillett. “When we partner with providers and employers to understand the skills required for the clean economy, our pivot to cleaner tools and technologies will be smoother and more efficient. If done correctly, this can minimize or even eliminate workers being ‘displaced’ from their careers—a life’s work they’ve invested years in to provide for their families.

Gillett added Washington has made “impressive commitments to a carbon-free energy future and to other policies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

“These goals are an exciting destination, but our communities need a roadmap on how to get there. The Climate-Ready Communities Act creates the pathway we need. Labor unions, registered apprenticeship programs, and other stakeholders now have the tools they need to partner in the education of Washington’s clean energy workforce. Thank you to the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council and their affiliates who were vital partners in the development of the Clean Energy Technology Workforce Advisory Committee portion of the legislation. The BlueGreen Alliance is proud to support this law and its implementation,” said Gillett.