Reposted from UC ANR news
Bute, Feather River, Lake Tahoe, Ridley and Shasta Community Colleges, Chico State, UC ANR and Sierra Business Council to train workers for urgently needed jobs
Forested rural communities in California are suffering from wildfires that have burned 2.5 million acres and destroyed several communities in 2021 alone. To create good-paying jobs and improve forest health and fire safety, the Sierra Nevada and Cascade regions have received $21.5 million for a project that will strengthen infrastructure for workforce development and provide those jobs to local community members of all backgrounds.
Funded by the federal Good Jobs Challenge, the project is being implemented by the California Community Colleges Foundation, California State University Chico, California University of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Sierra Business Council.
“There is so much work to be done in California to increase the resilience of forests and communities to wildfires and climate change, and there are not enough trained workers to do all of this work,” said UC Cooperative Extension Forest and Nature Suzy Kocher. Wealth Advisor for the Central Sierra. “A recent assessment estimated a future shortfall of 6,000 fire managers, 4,000 conservation scientists and foresters, 7,000 loggers and 1,500 utility line clearance technicians. California desperately needs skilled workers to fill those jobs to protect and rebuild communities in rural parts of the state. And these are well-paying jobs with benefits.
The four-year project will help train skilled workers and employ them in high-quality jobs in the forestry sector. Five community colleges — Butte College, Feather River College, Lake Tahoe Community College, Ridley College and Shasta College — partnered on the project with California State University Chico, California Agricultural and Natural Resources University and the Sierra Business Council. This group has a track record of delivering effective workforce training programs in partnership with industry and communities.
The emerging forestry and fire-safety sector has the potential to grow into a $39 billion industry. Working with Hispanic-serving institutions, Indigenous-led partners and other community-based organizations to recruit, support and train members of the local community, the project broadens the industry’s talent pool by showcasing the diversity of the field.
The “California’s Enduring Careers in Forestry” project is being awarded one of 32 grants from the $500 million Good Jobs Challenge sponsored by President Biden’s America’s Recovery Plan and administered by the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration.
“We are honored to be selected as one of the recipients of the Challenge of Good Works Award along with a talented group of partners serving rural communities,” said Keta Mills, president of the California Community Colleges Foundation. “This work is critical to helping Californians find good jobs, especially as we help our state respond to the urgent needs of climate change and support economic growth in regions most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters.