The YWCA of Asheville is the proud recipient of a Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Small Project Grant. The resulting venture is a joint-planning and research effort by the YWCA of Asheville and Green Opportunities (GO) to prepare the Asheville-Buncombe community for emerging green economic opportunities in a way that deliberately includes traditionally underserved populations.
Despite the current recession, green job opportunities in NC are on the rise. In NC last year, employment in clean energy grew 6% despite an overall job loss rate of 5%. Experts predict 36% job growth in the industry over the next 12 months. Buncombe County boasts the third highest number of green businesses in NC and both the county and the City of Asheville are aggressively pursuing policy initiatives and infrastructure projects that could create hundreds of green jobs.
However, a review of the principle jobs being created makes it is clear that without intentional efforts in education, training, outreach, and recruitment, women, people of color and disconnected youth are very likely to miss out on what could be this century’s most significant economic driver.
Responding to trends locally and across the nation, the YW has determined that green jobs is an important focus for the empowerment of women and other underserved populations in the emerging green economy. Green jobs pay higher than average wages, and when available, training is affordable and offered in a reasonable and manageable time frame. This offers an unprecedented opportunity to educate and train persons in the target group for sustainable employment.
The YWCA of Asheville and Asheville GO will bring together critical workforce development agencies, green employers and community stakeholders together to raise awareness, gather data, share information and network. The overall result of the project will be an increased capacity to prepare a well-equipped green workforce inclusive of all people.
The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation was established in 1936 as a memorial to the youngest son of the founder of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. The Foundation’s current focus areas include Community Economic Development, Democracy and Civic Engagement, the Environment, Pre-Collegiate Education, and Social Justice and Equity.