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Career Opportunities Abound as Construction Moves Toward Decarbonization

As municipalities throughout the state work to implement policies and plans to meet California’s long-term climate goals, building electrification has been a key strategy utilized to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). On August 11th, Valley Vision hosted a virtual Energy, Construction, and Utilities Regional Industry Advisory to better understand the impact of building electrification on occupations in the Greater Sacramento region.

With an already strained workforce due to labor shortages across the construction trades, set to intensify with the enactment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, building electrification poses additional labor demand for electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, HVAC/R technicians and construction trade laborers. It is critical that our education, workforce, and industry partners market and adapt their training programs to provide community members the information and ability to take advantage of these burgeoning opportunities.  

Labor market data presented by Ebony Benzing, Research Manager at the North/Far North Centers of Excellence, indicated that the Greater Sacramento region’s retrofit and construction workforce has a higher projected job growth rate (11%) over the next five years compared to the average projected job growth rate for all other occupations throughout the region (6%). This echoes statewide data from the UCLA Luskin Center which indicates that building retrofits and renewable energy construction jobs will see the greatest growth due to building decarbonization between 2020 to 2044.

Laura Tuller, Associate Planner with the City of Sacramento, provided information on their local Building Electrification Ordinance, addressing the electrification of new and existing buildings to meet the City’s climate action goals of carbon neutrality by 2045. As the City leads building electrification initiatives in the region, innovative and accessible education and training programs will be key to meet the region’s workforce needs. 

During the event, industry panelists reinforced labor market data detailing consistent job candidate shortages to meet industry demand despite the economic uncertainty of current inflationary pressures. Rick Wylie, President at Villara Building Systems, shared, “…we have a tremendous amount of growth in new apartment construction and we’re about to, very aggressively, grow in the replacement sector, especially electrification.” Panelists stressed they are seeking a wide range of candidates to meet workforce demands, from entry-level individuals with customer service skills and the physical ability to execute tasks, to specific skilled workers such as Home Energy Rating System providers, building inspectors, electricians, and HVAC/R contractors. 

With the high need for skilled workers across the industry, strong partnerships were emphasized as crucial to meet job recruitment and training needs. Career exploration programs, as well as internship and job placement services, available through employer associations such as the North State Building Association utilize partnerships with community-based organizations and schools to help build strong career pathways. Community college programs, such as Sierra College’s Construction Bootcamp and Cosumnes River College’s construction programs, work with employers to give students hands-on experience and quickly get them working in the industry

Building electrification, like many industries moving toward a greener economy, has the opportunity to provide access to high wage, future focused careers.  This advisory demonstrates obtaining skills and entering construction occupations with current, significant demand will also position individuals to benefit from decarbonization as the field moves toward cleaner processes in this lucrative industry.

Valley Vision’s employer and industry advisories are funded by Los Rios Community College District through Strong Workforce Program funds in conjunction with the Capital Region Workforce Boards through Regional Planning Implementation funds.

To keep up with Valley Vision’s work to advance a future-ready workforce in the Sacramento region, subscribe to our 21st Century Workforce email newsletter!

Renee John is the Director of Workforce Development in the 21st Century Workforce Impact Area

Yzabelle Dela Cruz is a Project Manager in the 21st Century Workforce Impact Area

Angelina Olweny is a Project Associate in the 21st Century Workforce Impact Area