New business mentoring program matches Vermont energy professionals with business coaches
November 15, 2023
Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund launches 18-month program pairing energy services business owners with business coaches to address workforce challenges, strategic planning and project management.
The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF), in collaboration with Efficiency Vermont and its Energy Excellence Network, is launching an advanced business assistance program for Vermont energy professionals. Starting in January 2024, a cohort of competitively selected energy services business owners and entrepreneurs will work directly with experienced business coaches to receive advanced business assistance in a new program called, “Tools of the Trade – Business Fundamentals for Energy Pros.”
The “Tools of the Trade” program is an 18-month hybrid training course specifically designed to support the needs of home performance and weatherization contractors, builders who specialize in renewable energy and energy efficiency, electrician firms, and energy audit businesses. Energy business owners will be paired with experienced business coaches to address critical needs like workforce recruitment and retention, strategic planning, goal setting, staff management, financial management, and operations/project management. Applications open November 13, 2023. The program will start at the end of January 2024 and run through June 2025.
Twelve energy services business leaders will be selected to improve their executive business skills and core operational practices in order to prepare their company for expanding and retaining their workforce. This program is designed to assist one dozen business owners/entrepreneurs expand Vermont’s ability to install renewable energy and energy efficient technologies to more homes and businesses across the state.
“We will have an increasingly hard time meeting our climate and energy plan targets as a state without more skilled workers weatherizing homes, installing heat pumps and solar panels, and servicing those systems,” said Ellen Kahler, VSJF’s Executive Director. “In order to attract and retain more workers, especially in today’s tight labor market, businesses will need to improve their workplace culture, human resource practices, and overall business operations so that they are better prepared to manage an expanded workforce.”
“We’re eager to grow the energy efficiency workforce and attract more talent to these trade groups. As businesses seek additional resources and opportunities we welcome them to join our member network. The EEN is comprised of skilled and talented trade professionals committed to energy efficiency design and operation of our built spaces. They are the backbone of meeting, and exceeding, state climate goals and reducing utility costs of Vermont businesses and residents,” shared Bryn Oakleaf, EEN Manager.
“Tools of the Trade – Business Fundamentals for Energy Pros” will include three distinct training elements: a six-month core business functions ‘boot camp,’ followed by small group trainings on a range of business fundamentals that address industry-specific challenges. Concurrent to the cohort trainings will be one-on-one coaching to meet the unique needs of each participating business. The program will be delivered through a mix of online and in-person sessions, depending on what will best suit businesses enrolled in the program.
“Tools of the Trade” is made possible through funding from the state of Vermont, Efficiency Vermont and Vermont Gas Systems and is valued at $9,500 per business. The cost for each business participating in the program is $1,000. The possibility of continuing education credits being offered for those who complete the program is being explored.
About Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF) provides tailored business management coaching, entrepreneurial support, and training to position Vermont entrepreneurs for growth and long-term success. Tools of the Trade – Business Fundamentals for Energy Pros program is an expansion of its existing business coaching program. Our clients include Vermont-based, value-added food and agricultural, forest-related, renewable energy, waste management, and environmental/clean technology enterprises that are supplying products and services to a diverse marketplace. VSJF recently published the Business Sense series, a no-fluff source of information that gets right to the heart of what small business owners need – essential tools and informational resources to help their businesses grow.
About Efficiency Vermont
As the nation’s first Energy Efficiency Utility, Efficiency Vermont has helped Vermont avoid over 13.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and has received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence award for the last eight consecutive years. Efficiency Vermont works with partners to help our state transition to more affordable, low-carbon energy use through education, incentives, and support for our clean energy workforce. Learn more at www.efficiencyvermont.com.
About The Efficiency Excellence Network
Managed by Efficiency Vermont, the Efficiency Excellence Network hosts members who are a licensed and insured network of independent contractors committed to providing their customers with the highest level of professional energy efficiency services. The network is comprised of experts in the advanced technologies and building science that make buildings more energy efficient and affordable to maintain. They are also trained to understand and consider important health and safety measures that are key to any job.