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GREEN JOBS AND BLUE SKIESEnergy efficiency occupations study provides hope for California Bay AreaThe "three E's" of the capital markets (economists, employees and everyone)

were all quivering over February's national unemployment rate which

increased to 8.1%, translating to over 12.5 million individuals looking for

jobs. In particular, Californians are uneasy about being one of the top

four states in the country with statewide unemployment rates above 10%. In

addition to the current load of displaced workers, the stock market's

attack on investments has virtually ensured the expected baby boomer

retirement trend will significantly stall and June will see an influx of

freshly-minted college graduates, all adding to an already competitive

prospective-employee pool. According to National Public Radio's Senior

Business Editor, Marilyn Geewax, "We have no silver linings. At this point,

things really look terrible. We're in... a freefalling labor market."The California Community College's Workforce and Economic Development

Centers of Excellence (COE) found a pocket of economic hope in their new

environmental scan on Energy Efficiency Occupations. California's

persistent move towards energy efficiency has spurred a rising need around

eight energy efficiency occupations that is likely to create thousands of

well paying jobs over the next three years, according to the COE report.The report findings are based on survey responses from over 700 firms that

hire energy efficiency workers in 12 counties in the San Francisco Bay

Area. The firms were primarily from three industries: 1) public or private

utilities or agencies, 2) building design and construction, and 3) building

or facility operations and maintenance. Industry partner Charles

Segerstrom, manager of PG&E's Energy Centers said, "Increasing focus on

climate change mitigation, local jobs, energy costs, legislative

requirements and consumer demand for sustainability have all led to a major

push for a greener economy. The latest COE report is a major step to

uncover information about the energy efficiency sector and related

occupations that will support development of 'green collar' workforce

education and training programs."Co-author and San Francisco Bay COE Director John Carrese said, "One of our

key goals in releasing these types of reports is to make sure that

community colleges understand the market needs so that they can adapt and

design curriculum to prepare students for high growth occupations."According to the report, the two largest growth occupations over the next

12 months are building performance or retrofitting specialists with an

estimated 950 new jobs (an increase of 21%) and energy auditors or home

energy raters with an estimated 590 new jobs (an increase of 20%.)The two largest growth occupations over the next three year period are

project managers for construction or design work with an estimated 2,850

new jobs (an increase of 27%) and building performance or retrofitting

specialists with an estimated 2,690 new jobs (an increase of 58%)."These numbers show a real opportunity to train individuals into high

growth occupations in the Bay Area," said Executive Director Dan Geiger,

U.S. Green Building Council, Northern California Chapter. "Knowing what

occupations and skills are most important is a key factor in re-training

displaced workers and getting them back to work, which ultimately will help

re-energize our economy here in California."Some of the report's most important data details the current challenges for

firms in the energy efficiency sector; finding qualified workers tops the

list. Training and certification challenges, along with education and

salary information from employers, are also covered in the report. Richard

Della Valle, statewide initiative director, Northern California

Environmental Training Centers said, "We need to make sure that our

community colleges are on track with developing the skills tha