Case Study - Foothills Energy Partnership

The Foothills Energy Partnership (FEP) represents the culmination of several years of work to identify shared workforce issues among renewable energy companies. During the summer of 2009, Jefferson County Workforce Center (JCWFC) and Workforce Boulder County (WFBC) commissioned a study of renewable energy employers operating within their Workforce Investment regions with SECTORS planning grant funds. The objectives of this study were to learn more about the training, education, staffing and human resource needs of the renewable energy industry sector; uncover any training, education staffing and human resource needs or gaps within the industry that were not being satisfied; and to develop solutions to help meet the needs of the renewable energy sector.

Two core challenges emerged from this planning grant: the sector itself varies widely (solar to wind to biomass) and the firms within it vary widely in terms of their size and maturity. Determining a shared workforce challenge among such a diverse set of companies- the core work of any sector initiative- required additional thoughtfulness. FEP chose to address four areas based largely on commonalities between emerging and established businesses, plus two additional areas, each unique to either group but beneficial to both groups: cultivation of a green-collar workforce; applicant evaluation and placement; elimination of workforce system barriers and employer capacity to provide incumbent worker training and/or on-the-job training

FEP translated these four areas into its four key goals:

  • Develop a green collar workforce in the targeted region;
  • Increase business capacity to evaluate, place and train the existing renewable energy workforce;
  • Eliminate workforce system barriers for sector stakeholders; and
  • Institutionalize renewable energy sector strategies to ensure sustainability.

The project is structured to meet both supply and demand issues. It tackles workforce supply issues - the cultivation of a green collar workforce - through the project’s education coordinator who provides information on the renewable energy sector to jobseekers and students; he also collates educational and training provider information. The second goal- business’s capacity for incumbent worker training- is addressed by understanding employer’s current needs for on the job training. The third goal is really focused on how the workforce system can improve itself to effectively work with business to meet their needs. In this area FEP focuses employer conversations on larger system issues through its employer Advisory Council. Like the third goal, the fourth goal is essentially about making sector strategies the way of doing business. To that end, the education coordinator trains not only jobseekers and students, but also workforce staff on the renewable energy sector.

Click to download a full profile of this partnership with further information on partnership building, employer engagement, meeting workers’ needs, and systems change.

Related Materials

Marketing Brochure for the initiative

Career and Industry Awareness - FEP holds monthly Renewable Energy presentation whichs WFC staff, job seekers, and students can attend to learn more about Renewable Energy. Promotional flyers for two events are linked below:
Green Careers for Coloradans
NREL presentation

Business Breakfasts - FEP holds regular breakfast meetings for current and potential industry partners.

Employer survey from packet

Training Support Materials - examples of materials used to organize information needed from training recipients, and assess outcomes with employers.
Application Form
Paperwork Checklist
Class Roster
Employer Outcomes Form

One-page grant summary/description

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