Thursday, May 20, 2010

With few job opportunities, veterans head to college

A couple weeks ago we mentioned the dramatic spike in enrollments at our state's colleges and universities.

The Higher Education Coordinating Board today released some interesting data showing the spike is particularly high among veterans having problems finding civilian jobs.

For example, the University of Washington and its branch campuses in Bothell and Tacoma experienced an average 40 percent increase in veteran enrollment during spot checks conducted between December 2008 and February 2010. And veteran enrollment at 18 of the state’s 34 community and technical colleges rose even more, about 53 percent during the same period.
The HEC Board also notes a simultaneous drop in on-the-job training and apprenticeship opportunities, likely due to the recession.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Green Economy + Apprentices = Jobs of the Future

From the state Department of Labor and Industries (L&I):
The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) says a recently completed expansion of a Washington wind farm is a good example of how apprenticeship programs can help develop a skilled workforce for green-energy jobs.

Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) expansion project, at the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility near Ellensburg, was completed using registered apprentices for at least 15 percent of the work. As such, it met the apprentice utilization requirements of Initiative 937, passed in 2006 to encourage the use and expansion of renewable energy and the training of Washington’s workforce in green jobs.

“Washington is a leader in training the next generation of skilled workers in the growing field of renewable energy,” said Melinda Nichols, manager of L&I’s apprenticeship program, which oversees training standards of registered apprenticeship. “During these tough economic times when many people are out of work, Washington was able to put 25 registered apprentices to work building skills for their future and the future of our state.”

Along those lines, Greenopia, a directory of eco-friendly retailers, services, and organizations, has ranked Washington the greenest state in the nation, thanks in large part to our vast number of LEED-certified buildings.

Their statement reads:
Washington has better than average air and water quality according to data from the EPA and American Lung Association. Washington has a very good recycling rate at around 45%, and its state government has been very progressive in adopting environmental initiatives. Washington has a large number of green businesses and LEED buildings (ones that are both registered and certified), even when you scale them to its population. It is also one of the greener states in terms of its per capita emissions, energy consumption, and water consumption. Lastly, Washington is one of the top states in renewable energy sourcing.

Greenopia's one concern for our state is our heavy dependence on hydroelectric energy, and they'd like to see us diversify our renewable energy portfolio. But maybe the aforementioned Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility will make us even more Number Onerer.

Moeller joins hunt for new insights into transportation, land-use planning

A new National Governors Association (NGA) leadership position will give a veteran Clark County legislator the chance to help represent Washington on a key regional and countrywide group seeking cutting-edge thinking in transportation policymaking.

State Rep. Jim Moeller was recently appointed to the NGA Transportation Academy on Best Practices. Moeller explained that Washington is one of five states selected by the Governors Association to participate in the NGA Policy Academy. The quintet of Colorado, Maryland, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia is charged with finding new-age answers to the age-old questions about planning in the realms of transportation and land-use.

The National Governors Association Policy Academy employs an interactive, team-based process to develop and execute state-action plans ad¬dressing multifaceted public-policy issues.
A four-term lawmaker, Moeller said that Washington has a golden chance to tap the resources of the Policy Academy. He said his leadership position “will provide a great opportunity for me to thoroughly represent our Southwest Washington interests as the work moves forward on the Columbia River Crossing project.

“The Policy Academy goal isn’t to throw together yet another study-on-governance report, stuff it into an attractive binder for folks to proudly display in their bookshelves – and then promptly forget all about said report,” Moeller said. “We want to identify strategies that unite various levels of the transportation and land-use decision-making process. Certainly, in my opinion at least, the ultimate objective is the development of smarter decisions and common objectives that make”:
  • Our communities more livable.
  • Our economies more durable.
  • And our transportation infrastructure more workable.
The Policy Academy “is a good vehicle for helping us enhance our existing land-use and transportation planning framework. We need to address the challenges of the next 20 years,” Moeller said. “And these challenges have everything to do with reducing our green¬house-gas emissions, recharging our transportation system, and reporting our progress – or reporting the lack of our progress – to citizens.”

Moeller will be working with representatives from the governor’s office, the Washington state departments of Commerce and Transportation, and other regional and state organizations.