DES MOINES- Over the past few years, Iowa has been laying the groundwork for the new, green economy by trying to define industries and occupations that are specifically “green.” Most of this work has resulted from collaboration and communication among several state agencies, educational institutions, and other stakeholders in the workforce development system.
In December 2008, a committee was formed for the purpose of defining and reporting on Iowa’s green jobs. The members of the committee included staff from Iowa Workforce Development, several other state agencies, and Iowa Central College under the direction of the Enterprise Planning Team for Energy and Environment. It was determined that Iowa’s green jobs will predominantly fall into four emerging sectors of the state’s economy:
• Renewable Energy Production
•Green Building Construction and Retrofitting
• Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Conservation
• Energy Efficiency
This list was used as a framework for data collection and analysis, with the understanding that an expanded definition and further guidelines would be provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Since that time, Iowa Workforce Development’s Labor Market Information staff have continued their green economy research efforts, and within the last year, the Department received monies from two separate grants funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA): State Labor Market Information Improvement Grants. A total of $1,172,614 was received for Iowa’s Single State Proposal, and another $533,000 was awarded as part of an interstate grant that included six states (Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming). Both grants require specific deliverables on green economy research, with one of the most important being a sample survey of 20,000 Iowa employers that will identify the current and future demand for green occupations in the state. Employers were asked to identify their “green” jobs by specific job title, provide the major job duties of those occupations, the training and education requirements, percentage of time related to green-related activities, and wage information. The results of the survey will be made available in May 2011.
As part of the interstate grant deliverable, the Northern Plains and Rocky Mountain Consortium will be hosting a conference on Researching the Green Economy on April 19-20, 2011 at the Renaissance Des Moines Savery Hotel. The objective of the conference is to disseminate the most up-to-date green economy research. Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development, and Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development will provide opening comments. Information will be provided on a wide variety of topics, such as Iowa’s renewable energy industry, green construction, new and emerging green technologies, green jobs training, and national green jobs data.