Vice President Kamala Harris paid a visit to the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator in the downtown Arts District Monday and touted efforts to build a robust “clean energy economy” and ensure that workers are trained in the type of skills needed to support such an economy.
The Cleantech Incubator is a nonprofit organization designed to support clean-energy business startups and back the development of technologies supporting the industry.
Harris took a tour of the facility, focusing her discussions with LACI officials on clean energy and transportation projects, and efforts to increase access to such technologies in low-income and high-pollution communities. She also discussed the incubator’s workforce training efforts for the industry.
“This is the thing that I really am so excited about when we think about this new economy we’re all building, a clean-energy economy,” Harris said in remarks after her tour. “We have very clear goals — we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we want to save this precious planet of ours, we want clean air, we want clean water, we want to invest in innovations that also will make the cost of living for families less expensive.
“But it’s also about tapping into things that communities have long wanted, but these things have just not been available. So we’re really doing a lot here. We’re really doing a lot here.”
Harris also met with entrepreneurs who have taken advantage of the incubator’s services and start-up funding, while also meeting with graduates of the workforce training programs.
“It’s been a huge blessing, to be able to provide better and I’ve learned a lot,” one of those trainees, Xiomara Rios, said.
Harris said she has spoken to business representatives and workforce trainers across the country and world, and she said there needs to be a shift in the way companies seek out workers.
“I think we collectively as a community should also challenge ourselves when we are thinking about the jobs we are creating,” she said. “We are creating a lot of jobs. … I would challenge us to not just think of a title. I would challenge us to not just think of a degree, but define and advertise a job based on the skill the job requires. For the private sector, for the employers who are feeling challenged (wondering) `is the workforce there?’ The workforce will come if they’re really clear about the skills they need to develop to do the job.
“And so let’s think a little bit more about how we are defining the jobs based on the skill, because that will also then sneak to the educators to know what they should be teaching to meet the demand and the need.”