San Diego

Comprised of San Diego and Imperial Counties

Decarbonization requires a larger workforce, higher technology integration skills

Approximately 24,000 annual job openings indicate solid economic growth. Environmental and Equity progress requires advances in workforce development to decarbonize communities and create economic mobility for their residents.

Our Process:
Three-Part Data Analysis

TESC cultivates regional collaboratives that prioritize workforce initiatives to drive the triple bottom line of Economy, Environment, and Equity


Aligning workforce development priorities with regional economic initiatives
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Building essential workforce skills to support regional decarbonization
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Creating career opportunities for members of Disadvantaged Communities
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Stark contrast defines the economies of San Diego and Imperial counties

Continued growth in markets such as solar, wind, energy efficiency, storage, and electric vehicles has elevated San Diego County as a leader in the climate action and smart cities movements.

  • ranks #2 in the nation for solar installations, with more than 303 megawatts of installed solar capacity – enough to power the equivalent of nearly 76,000 homes.
  • ranks #8 in the nation for clean power production, with more than 51 million kilowatt-hours annually.
  • San Diego’s Smart City Solutions was named one of the world’s top 10 smart city projects.
  • San Diego’s clean energy industry benefits from the support of regional business association Cleantech San Diego, which fosters collaboration across the private-public-academic landscape, lead advocacy efforts to promote cleantech priorities, and encouages investment in the San Diego region
  • the Southern California Energy Innovation Network (SCEIN) is a free program for startups in Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties that are developing solutions to help California meet its energy goals. Funded by the California Energy Commission and led by Cleantech San Diego, SCEIN partners with New Energy Nexus to help regional energy entrepreneurs compete for CalSEED funds.
  • ranks as the #4 metro area in the nation for cleantech leadership
  • 17 of the 18 cities in San Diego County have Climate Action Plans

The Imperial Valley has largely defied attempts to expand its economy beyond seasonal farming and government work. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest five-year estimate, Imperial County’s unemployment rate stands at 16% — four times greater than the state’s overall jobless rate of 4.2%.

Economy | Environment | Equity
Clean Technology Driving Economic Growth

Overall in 2017 the clean technology sector remained stable, with year-over-year growth occurring primarily in the transportation sector. San Diego continues to have a concentration of clean technology jobs that is twice the national job level.

Highlights: Decarbonization is being driven by workforce growth in advanced transportation infrastructure, resiliency measures, and higher energy efficiency in buildings.
Economy | Environment | Equity
High-skill Occupations in Greatest Demand

San Diego’s regional economic growth is creating 24,000 job openings annually in the Energy, Construction, and Utilities Sector. These new positions support further economic growth and help drive the triple bottom line.

Highlights: San Diego’s focus on Environmental Resilience is aided by the region’s participation in the global Resilient Cities Program, focusing governance, finance, and urban development on removing barriers to change.
Economy | Environment | Equity


Innovative workforce solutions for environmental opportunities and challenges are essential to achieve decarbonization at scale for impacted communities

The San Diego Region has significant capital and technological resources to help address the clean energy and pollution challenge. Workforce capacity and competence continues to be a major issue, one that’s created the need for action by TESC and its collaborators.

By 2050, scientists predict San Diego will have seven times as many extreme heat days per year as the pre-2000 historical average, from 2 days to 15 days.

According to the Economic Resilience: Health study, the potential productivity and financial loss includes:

  • 65,000 production hours lost in heat-exposed industries
  • 17 percent increase in commercial sector spending on electricity due to increased A/C usage
  • As much as $9.4 million in additional employee medical costs annually due to extreme heat

An unfortunate aspect of this projection is that negative environmental impact is likely to be concentrated in seven zip codes currently in the highest quartile of poor environmental quality.

SourceSan Diego Impacted Climate Change

Economy | Environment | Equity
Concentrations of Poor Environmental Quality

Communities most impacted by environmental issues cluster in seven zip codes, reflecting heavy industrial and power generation footprints. Significant health issues are common in the region, attributable in part to environmental conditions.

Highlights: More than 250,000 San Diego/Imperial County residents live in the highest quartile of poor environmental quality among all communities in the state.
Economy | Environment | Equity
The Workforce Opportunity

Heavy industrial and power generation sites are the target of California’s Cap and Trade Legislation. Heavy traffic corridors are major pollution sources as well. Complex site-level and community-scale decarbonization projects will require significant new workforce competencies for advanced technology integration.

Emerging Occupations

  • Database Systems operators
  • Data analytics specialists
  • Coders and programmers
  • digital energy systems
    • Designers
    • Integrators
    • Operators
  • Digital Energy network specialists
    • Cybersecurity specialists
  • Digital programming specialists
    • Microgrid-associated technologies and networks
    • Energy auditing,surveying and benchmarking
    • Energy modeling
  • CAD/CAM drafters and operators
  • Energy systems
    • Sales specialists
    • Product marketing specialists
Highlights: Significant upgrades to education and training programs are required for essential technologies that can achieve environmental improvement in distressed communities and beyond.
Economy | Environment | Equity


Poor environmental quality is strongly correlated with economic disadvantage, indicating regional responsibility for social equity in addition to environmental justice.

Tackling climate change has created an opportunity for San Diego to do well for our environment while also boosting our economy. Strategies of the Climate Action Plan are intended to promote job creation through capital improvements and corresponding research, development and innovation. These jobs are primarily in high-growth “green job” or “clean tech” with corresponding well-paying wages.

A natural synergy exists between climate action and social equity. Equity is fundamental for inclusive economic growth and development because our region and economy improves when everyone does better. When a San Diegan with a low or moderate income has better access to affordable transportation or lower utility bills, the money they save can be dedicated to other necessities. Climate Action Plan strategies intended to reduce resource consumption (e.g., energy efficiency measures) can save money for individuals, families and businesses., “Social Equity and Job Creation”

Economy | Environment | Equity
Communities in Need: Environmental Justice

Disadvantaged Communities are disproportionally affected by environmental issues. Mitigation or removal of environmental impacts is essential to quality of life for more than 200,000 San Diego/Imperial County residents. Hover over each population for a total count.

Highlights: These communities are among the most environmentally disadvantaged in the region. Environmental justice requires large scale measures to improve quality of life for community members.
Economy | Environment | Equity
Communities in Need: Social Equity

Social and economic mobility challenges are more severe in Disadvantaged Communities. Workforce development solutions are needed to create pathways out of poverty, requiring strong regional action.

Highlights: Social equity is a serious issue for members of these communities, adding the need for family wage jobs on top of relieving health issues associated with poor environmental quality.
Economy | Environment | Equity
Abundant Job Opportunities, Targeted Workforce Development Required

Approximately 24,000 job openings are projected annually for the San Diego/Imperial Energy, Construction, and Utilities Sector through 2026. TESC partnerships with community-based organizations and industry create a strong platform for pathways out of poverty.

The chart below displays median ECU hourly earnings as well as the living wage as calculated for the San Diego Metropolitan Area.

Highlights: Significant opportunities exist in middle-skill jobs for which members of Disadvantaged Communities can be trained and employed.
Economy | Environment | Equity