Workforce Development Planner
The historic city of Birmingham, AL, has an opportunity to significantly improve residents’ economic prosperity while also boosting the community’s resilience to climate change. The City has a need for more workers and businesses that can support efforts to increase energy efficiency, improve the city landscape and create a safer, healthier living environment. The Executive Fellow will catalyze these efforts by developing operational plans and funding support for green workforce development initiatives.
Fellowship Dates: October 23, 2023 – October 21, 2024
Salary: Executive Fellows are FUSE employees and receive an annual base salary of $80,000. Fellows can also access various health, dental, and vision insurance benefits. Compensation for this year of public service is not intended to represent market-rate compensation for the experienced professionals in our program.
ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP
FUSE is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.
Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.
The City of Birmingham, AL, is rich in history and tradition, but also faces challenges in adapting to a changing climate. The EPA expects that climate change will bring increased precipitation, higher summer temperatures, greater drought frequency and other severe weather risks to Alabama. More frequent flooding and high temperature days pose significant risks. The elderly, people of color, people in poor health, lower-income individuals, and people living in substandard housing are more vulnerable to these climate-related threats. Due to the legacy of slavery, redlining, and exclusionary housing policies in Birmingham, Black residents, specifically, are living in areas at greater risk of climate change impacts and exposure to environmental health hazards, which compounds existing barriers for Black people in the workforce and small business owners.
To address these economic challenges and fuel economic mobility, the City of Birmingham envisions an inclusive, innovative, and qualified resident workforce, equipped with the unique skills, certifications and experience to meet these demands head on. The City’s Office of Innovation and Economic Opportunity (IEO) is charged with serving Birmingham residents by advancing workforce development; supporting small businesses; managing the city’s real estate; and retaining and recruiting quality employers. IEO does this by creating quality jobs, preparing workers for those jobs, and ensuring that residents can access the skill development for those jobs.
Additionally, the Mayor’s Office has created the Office of Resilience and Sustainability to address climate challenges in close collaboration with other departments. Priorities include:
- Housing remediation. Many residents’ homes are poorly equipped to withstand the increasing rigors of severe weather. Remediation, repairs and renovations can help residents safely remain in place and reduce their energy burden. (A majority of Birmingham’s housing stock (83%) was built over 30 years ago with approximately 50% of the housing stock developed from 1950 to 1979, and low-income households in Birmingham face one of the highest energy burdens in the country.)
- Underused and vacant lots. The City and Land Bank Authority manage thousands of vacant and underused properties. Considerable resources are spent to maintain the status quo of these properties through mowing and routine maintenance. These properties could be reimagined to increase tree cover and make other landscape improvements, mitigating climate change impacts and increasing quality of life.
- Workforce gaps. Both public and private employers struggle to attract, train, and retain the workforce needed to address housing and landscape remediation needs in neighborhoods. Bridging these gaps, and identifying new green workforce opportunities, could create higher-wage jobs and a new generation of small businesses.
There are resources available to address these challenges, including Federal grants, state and local funding, and private funding opportunities.
The City of Birmingham will partner with FUSE to develop operational plans, fund, and implement programs to develop a green workforce. The FUSE Executive Fellow will help assess the current landscape of workforce development programs, identify training and career pathway gaps, co-design programs with job seekers, residents, and training providers, and develop fundable implementation plans for future grant and other funding opportunities. The project has the potential to increase the economic mobility, resilience, health, and wellbeing of Birmingham residents as climate change impacts the city.
PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES
The FUSE Executive Fellow will catalyze the development of a larger and stronger ‘green workforce’ in Birmingham. This is a multi-faceted effort that’s intended to launch workforce development programs during or shortly after the Executive Fellow’s first year in the role. The Executive Fellow’s activities and deliverables will include:
- Collaborating with the Office of Resilience and Sustainability and IEO to define the City’s green workforce gaps. This includes participating with IEO in the Good Jobs, Great Cities Academy through the Department of Labor and National League of Cities to develop a strategy for green workforce development that supports the City’s applications for federal funding. Associated activities may include collecting data and seeking input from a wide variety of community stakeholders to better understand what industries, job roles, and job skills are needed to tackle a range of projects in green workforce development.
- Developing operational plans for workforce development initiatives. This may include identifying priority populations and communities to facilitate place-based development and economic mobility, as well as collaborating with employers, educational institutions and other stakeholders to develop curriculum goals, budgets, staffing requirements, and more. These plans are intended to be actionable, so that the City and its partners could implement them as soon as they are funded — perhaps even during the Executive Fellow’s first year.
- Incorporating both worker training and small business support in the initiatives. The City believes there are opportunities to provide jobs for underemployed and unemployed residents if they can access training for in-demand skills. The City also believes there are opportunities for entrepreneurially minded residents to develop businesses that would generate wealth and create jobs.
- Writing grant applications and supporting documents. There are federal funding sources for the kinds of green workforce programs that the City envisions. There may also be funds available from other sources, such as private funders. And some potential partners, such as local educational institutions, are likely to also have funding opportunities through federal, state, local and private sources. The Executive Fellow will support funding requests by writing grant applications and related documents.
The goal of this fellowship is to create a significant impact for City of Birmingham residents during the fellowship or immediately after. The successful Executive Fellow will be proactive, energetic, collaborative and prepared to hit the ground running.
- Executive Sponsor – Amelia Muller, Civic Design Principal; Mayor’s Office
- Project Supervisor – Thomas Yuill, Deputy Director, Division of Resilience and Sustainability
- Key Collaborator – Rachel Buchan, Manager of Special Projects, Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity
In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in workforce development, public-private partnerships development, resilience and sustainability, construction or the trades is strongly preferred for this project.
- Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
- Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
- Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
- Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies and other processes.
- Communicates effectively both verbally and in writing, and excels in both active listening and conversing.
- Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies in order to support more effective decision making.
- Establishes and maintains strong relationships with a diverse array of stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, and particularly including community-based relationships.
- Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
- Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy, while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.