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Green jobs abound, but few takers

"Green jobs abound, but few takersPotentiality; Opportunities in renewable energy sector(By Julie Beun-Chown,
Canwest News Service Via Vancouver Sun)Up the Alaska Highway -- way, way up at Mile Marker 0 -- renewable energy
entrepreneur Randyn Seibold has been wrestling with a tough choice: to have
a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in Northern B. C.'s unspoiled wilderness or
follow the lure of capitalism.In the end, the 32-year-old avid rock climber has picked adventure-- with a
paycheque -- as one of the so-called ""green-collar"" electricians fitting
out the $190-million Bear Mountain Wind Park, a 34-turbine facility in the
Peace River region. When completed in November, it will generate 102
megawatts or enough electricity in an average year to power more than
30,000 homes.""I'm leading by example, I guess,"" laughs Mr. Seibold, who stepped back
from his green business interests to sign on as a hands-on apprentice
electrician. He says the project will become a key renewable energy hub for
the province.It's not a surprising decision. While other sectors have contracted or
slowed, he says, renewable energy is ""building momentum,"" supported not
just by a pressing environmental imperative but by investments such as
federal solar energy rebates and Ontario's Green Energy Act, which promises
to create 50,000 jobs within three years, support alternative energy
industries and make the province North America's renewable energy leader.
""The possibilities of sustainable energy are enormous,"" agrees Guy Dauncey,
president of the B. C. Sustainable Energy Association. ""[U. S. President
Barack] Obama's plan in America has a potential of creating two million
green jobs in two years. Our equivalent in Canada is 200,000 jobs within
two years, if we had a green economic recovery plan. There's job potential
for everyone.""And there's the rub: Despite the endless possibilities of sustainable
energy, the number of green graduates is not keeping pace with job
creation, says Don Young, dean of applied science at St. Lawrence College
in Kingston, Ont.""Solar and wind technologies are developing quickly because other countries
like Germany and Japan have a pressing need. So we didn't have to break
ground in Canada,"" says Mr. Young, who four years ago launched the
college's nationally-acclaimed solar energy program.""The trouble is that in this country, we have the technology but we don't
have a trained workforce to manage and build it. And that's no way for an
industry to build itself.""Mr. Seibold couldn't agree more. Last year, he developed Renewable
Recruits, a green-collar placement agency that matched employers with
recent graduates in everything from wind and solar energy to smart-grid
technology and industrial relations.From his experience, it was apparent that ""a lot of candidates wanted to
get into the industry, but they didn't have the basic skill sets to be good
candidates.""Experienced electrical and mechanical engineers were wanted, but either
people were employed or didn't know the niche existed.""It was obvious that people needed training and were interested, but no one
knew where to find it.""Change is coming. Since it was launched, Mr. Young says graduates of his
solar energy program ""have been snapped up immediately,"" finding jobs from
Halifax to Vancouver.""In the time we've offered this, we've witnessed a really big growth in the
area through government initiatives, but also through the public interest.
People are on board with green energy.""Even more critical than public will, says Mr. Seibold, is the need to
quickly implement practical solutions to political issues.""This is taking off from where David Suzuki left off; it's now beyond
talking about climate change to varying the vision with practical
applications. It's 2009 and we're in deep trouble. Green energy is one of
the only things we have left,"" he adds. ""Anyone who still questions that is
definitely missing the boat.""For the latest in green j"