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Workforce Success Story Submitted By:
Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board

Energy Coordinating Agency

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Workforce Challenge

The Energy Coordinating Agency, or ECA, is a non-profit organization that was established in 1984 to provide energy services and solutions for low-income residents in Philadelphia. The nation's focus on energy conservation, as well as the cost of energy and new requirements for weatherization training in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, have drastically changed ECA's role. ECA found itself struggling to find a diversified workforce that could meet its needs and satisfy new requirements. According to ECA's Director of Training, Walt Yakabosky, “The reality hit us that we don’t have the workforce to meet this changing demand.”

Workforce Solution

One solution for ECA was to establish a Green Jobs Training Center. The Center will be LEED gold certified and a model for all other energy conservation training centers in the United States.

Another was to establish a partnership with the Business Services Team from the Philadelphia Bureau of Workforce Development, or PBWD. While the Business Services team addressed ECA’s needs, it also helped open the door to new resources and opportunities for ECA to build its workforce. And through a partnership with PBWD, the PA CareerLink® and Impact Veterans Services, ECA began offering a weatherization training program specifically for veterans.

Outcomes & Benefits

The training began with a group of six veterans - the first in Philadelphia to become certified by the state in weatherization. The day after the group completed training, ECA’s Conservation Services department hired all of them - one as an auditor, one as a crew chief and the others as installers. In early January 2010, another group of six other veterans went through the training. Of the six, four will be hired by the Philadelphia Housing and Development Corporation, one by ECA, and one will become a lab technician in ECA’s new Green Jobs Training Center.

Now ECA is working closely with the Weatherization Training Center, or WTC, at Pennsylvania College of Technology to look at the national Department of Energy training curricula and help to develop a national standard for weatherization training.

The organization is also working on career pipeline activities with the Philadelphia School District, Philadelphia Academies, the Community College of Philadelphia and other four-year institutions. A recent agreement with the community college will allow those who are trained through ECA to earn credit toward an associate degree in construction management or architecture technology. And ECA is working with high schools to ensure science, technology, engineering and mathematics class work is integrated into the curriculum, introducing building sciences and energy conservation careers to interested students.

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