New vocational lab opens in North Philly to help grow green jobs

Steve Tawa
April 25, 2019 - 4:51 pm
A public-private investment in a new vocational lab is attracting neighbors, many of them unemployed or underemployed, looking to build a career in the new clean energy economy.

Steve Tawa/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A public-private investment in a new vocational lab is attracting neighbors, many of them unemployed or underemployed, looking to build a career in the new clean energy economy. 

Monti Martel, a 23-year-old from North Philadelphia, was working as a line cook.

"I was looking to do something more interesting, more grown man work." Martel said. 

So he's gone through a seven-week long program to work in solar energy, among several programs he could take up in the HVAC training lab on Clearfield Street below Allegheny Avenue.

"I never thought something like this would happen in such a poverty-stricken area. I see solar as booming. I decided to take advantage of it," he said. 

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The executive director of the Energy Coordinating Agency, Steve Luxton, points out seasoned HVAC technicians are hanging up their tool belts and retiring, and a skills gap has developed. 

"Millennials, I don't know what they eat for breakfast, but they're just not coming into the trades," Luxton said. 

So, these type of training programs can generate the next generation of skilled trades workers. 

The Philadelphia Energy Campaign is an ambitious 10-year plan to invest $1 billion in energy efficiency and clean energy projects, with a goal of creating 10,000 new jobs. 

Now in the third year, they've launched more than $180 million worth of projects and tracked about 1,000 jobs so far.