The Department of Energy is seeking public comments on a draft “Workforce Roadmap,” which it hopes will ultimately serve to benefit the wind energy industry in the US by, as stated in the Executive Summary of Workforce Development for the U.S. Wind Industry: Review Draft, outlining “a potential path to developing human capital.” “Human capital?” Hmmm … excellent description, especially since the wind developers, with the assistance of your elected officials have already figured out the path to the capital in your wallet.
Oh, there’s more … but I’ll let you read the Request Notice and the Roadmap Draft, which I’ve placed below, before I bore you with my comments:
Here is the formal notice of the RFI (Request for Information):
Following is the full release of the Department of Energy’s “Workforce Development for the US Wind Industry” draft.
So, here is what I wrote to a friend after I read the RFI:
Perhaps I was silly enough to expect something different, but this Roadmap, as described in the the 33 page Workforce Development draft “http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/pdfs/wpa/2010/workforce_roadmap.pdf ” has far less to do with job training/development than wind/green propaganda. I know it sounds like simple griping on my part, but this Roadmap is written by and for the wind industry and is simply a Federal agency’s effort to promote one industry beyond any other.
An example of this agency’s view of “workforce development” in K-12 is telling (P-16):
- “To address the need for better understanding and marketing of existing curricula and materials, including more ways to distribute curricula to the public. Some curricula already exist, but visibility is limited, and budgets for training and outreach are difficult to obtain.”
- “Address wind industry engagement to encourage adoption and implementation of K-12 wind-related materials in areas of interest.”
This is incredible!
It is remarkable that the Roadmap includes accounting, banking, insurance, legal and marketing in their list of lacking skill sets. Are we to assume that General Accepted Accounting Principles are different for the wind industry? I know it, at times, seems that way.
Beyond ranting, here is my serious recommendation for the Federal Agency:
- gut the Roadmap eliminating the 90% which is simply promotional
- develop a serious effort to insure training includes, and workers are certified to, safety measures specific and unique to the industry
- track government grant funding for any educational, job related programs to measure success of the programs.
The wind industry alone should determine the requirements of the workforce and contribute industry funds to schools and universities willing to offer specific training which will benefit their ability to make a profit
The role of the Government is to support a public and general education to adequately prepare the student for future opportunities of their choosing. The student, when making such choices, can then take advantage of any grants or scholarships available to assist them financially. It is up to industry to financially support specific education and training which will ultimately benefit them.
Having any government agency enter our early education system with the intent to promote one industry over another is outrageous and they should be called on the effort. Further, to expect taxpayers to pay for this endeavor raises serious ethical and legal questions.
Based on the huge list of “stakeholders” expecting to benefit financially from this Roadmap, it is unlikely that any recommendation other than to benefit the industry further or contribute more tax money into the program will be considered. My only hope is that before any serious new money is allocated to this program the wind business fails, for it won’t be common sense which curtails the Energy Department’s wind agenda.
You see, this is pretty serious stuff. It will cost you money somewhere along the line simply because it’s a government agency already engaged in propping up a business which can’t survive without tax subsidies. This effort simply seems like more of the same or, as some might say, “good money after bad!” No, there isn’t any mention of how much the government’s investment in this “workforce roadmap” will cost you, but you know it will. In fact, take a look at just two items listed in the Workforce Development Review Draft – Appendix B: Workforce Development Activities, which are “currently underway to support and expand workforce development options and provide a better understanding of the wind industry’s workforce development needs:
- DOL green jobs programs: Under the direction of the DOL, several grants have been announced focusing on job creation in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sector. Grants include the nearly $190 million State Energy Sector Partnership and Training Grants, the $150 million Pathways Out of Poverty grants, the $100 million Energy Training Partnership Grants, and $55 million in green training grants. Most of this program funding was authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. These activities provide funding for a wide range of programs to support job training and education to help teach dislocated and disadvantaged workers the skills required in emerging industries, including energy efficiency and renewable energy. Although some information is available on these grant recipients, it is unclear how many support efforts in the wind sector. (1)
- DOE Wind Program Educational Grants: In the summer of 2009, DOE announced awards to 13 educational workforce development projects as part of a competitive Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) focused on removing barriers to achieving 20% wind energy by 2030. The funding covers education and training activities at 2-year technical colleges, 4-year colleges and universities with undergraduate and graduate programs, and support to organizations providing continuing education. The funding provided for these activities exceeded $3.4 million over 2 years and is being implemented in nine states.
(1) Note how they know money is being spent already, but not really sure where it’s going. Makes you want to write them another check doesn’t it?
Now, while I’d love to hear your thoughts, it’s far more important that the Department of Energy receives them. After all, you’re paying their salary and the costs associated with this misguided effort should it go forward.
The deadline for comments is 8pm Eastern, 7/30/2010.