Voluntary language can often help drive quality in the marketplace and San Bernardino County, California is proving it.
Bigger than nine states, the California county is the largest in the United States by area. It is also the first local government in the U.S. to add language to its workforce development website that requires every training organization to answer questions related to IREC accreditation.
The following two questions must be answered and attached to application materials if an organization wants to be approved by the county to manage training programs:
- Are you an energy efficiency or renewable energy training provider? (Yes or No)
- If so, are you accredited through the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC)? (Yes or No)
By requiring organizations to answer these questions, San Bernardino County is educating the training community about the importance of IREC credentialing, while ensuring quality training for their workforce.
“We believe organizations that have gone through the IREC credentialing process are better prepared to train our workers for jobs in the clean energy industry,” says Emily Petrus of the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board. “These voluntary questions serve as a filter which makes my job easier and helps ensure that our training program standards remain high.”
Why is this new language important?
To be eligible to be recognized as a formal energy efficiency or renewable energy training organization at the local level, and to receive public funding, an organization must go through the local Workforce Investment Board (WIB) application process. This usually requires that the organization be approved and included on the state’s Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL). Every state uses some version of an ETPL, since federal funding requires it.
Most local WIBs have a web-based application process that directs the potential training organization to the state ETPL as part of their local approval process. There is constant information exchange between the state and local WIBs. Importantly, in order for a training organization to be considered for formal inclusion on the state ETPL, the organization must be suggested and processed through a local WIB.
“We like industry-driven credentials and want to promote credentials that result in real jobs,” says Sandy Harmsen, chair of the California Workforce Association (CWA) and current executive director of the San Bernardino County Workforce Board. “This new IREC language is an educational service we are providing. Adding the IREC language refers our workforce to an organization that has high standards and is respected within the energy efficiency and renewable energy fields,” she adds. “It is a clear win-win for San Bernardino workers and IREC.”
IREC’s Director of Credentialing Development Pat Fox agrees. “This is big news for clean energy credentialing and IREC,” says Fox. “San Bernardino County, like so many other local governments, respects IREC for its relevant, industry-driven workforce development and credentialing programs. They believe IREC’s high standards for training providers and instructors best prepare workers for the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. This is an important voluntary approach that sends a clear message to all potential training organizations that IREC credentialing programs are highly valued.”
Los Angeles County and Tulare County are also in the process of adding similar language to their local ETPL application process, starting what is expected to be a significant wave of California local governments promoting higher educational standards in the energy efficiency and renewable energy training fields.
And the state has tentatively agreed to include similar voluntary language that refers potential ETPL applicants to IREC. “The state is interested in helping our Local WIBs collect this information. It promotes informed customer choice which is the cornerstone for why the ETPL exists in the first place,” says Jose Luis Márquez, chief of California’s Employment Development Department’s Workforce Services Division.
For more information, please contact Pat Fox, IREC’s director of credentialing development at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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