Even in good economic times, many adults in the United States have trouble finding jobs that pay enough to support their families. Wages for those without a college degree, for example, have remained flat in real terms for decades. One policy response has been to help these workers build more skills, with promising findings from recently evaluated sector-based programs that train individuals for work in specific high-demand industries. These programs have typically focused on a handful of sectors, such as information technology, health care, and construction. The clean energy sector is a natural next step, given the growing efforts to combat climate change, the increasing demand for clean energy jobs, and the reported challenges facing employers in finding qualified candidates.
The Pay for Success Clean Energy Training project addresses these issues by providing training in clean energy jobs to low-wage and disadvantaged individuals. The project is funded by the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Department of Labor through the Social Impact Partnership to Pay for Results Act (SIPPRA) program. SIPPRA makes funding available to state and local governments for pay-for-results partnerships. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will provide funding to train individuals in New York State who are long-term unemployed, low-wage workers and youth ages 16-24 for energy efficiency occupations, and NYSERDA will receive up to $7.1 million in SIPPRA funding if the training increases participants’ earnings. A key part of the project is an independent evaluation, to be conducted by MDRC, to measure the program’s effects.