19 jobs - 0 added today
34836 registered Jobseekers
Recruiting? Call us on 01772 639042

Leaders hope green jobs will help heal employment void

Leaders hope green jobs will help heal employment void(By Jonathan Tamari and Matthew Spolar / The Philadelphia Inquirer via The

Boston Herald)When Ronald Tucker, a sheet-metal worker who had bounced

among at least five New Jersey companies over 20 years, was laid off again

in March, he decided it was time to trade a job surrounded by silver for

one based on green.Instead of looking for jobs making animal cages or ticket dispensers for

Skee-Ball machines, the 41-year-old Tucker enrolled in the first class of

green-jobs training at the Hispanic Family Center in Camden, N.J. The

father of one learned how to test home insulation.After graduating July 1, he landed a job with New Jersey utility giant

Public Service Electric & Gas Co. He starts in September.Tucker’s "green job" success story is one New Jersey hopes will be

replicated many times over, bolstered by approval last week of PSE&G’s $515

million project to install solar panels across the state.With traditional manufacturing dwindling in New Jersey and Pennsylvania,

leaders in both states have turned to "green jobs" to fill at least some of

the void. They have been cheered on by business, labor and

environmentalists alike."In light of the very serious unemployment problem we have, we need to

quickly ramp up the scale of these new investments, so we get our factories

working again, so we get our workers up off the bench and working again,"

said David Foster, executive director of the Blue Green Alliance, a

collaboration formed by the steel workers and Sierra Club. The alliance,

since expanded to other unions, promotes the idea of creating jobs through

environmentally friendly investments.For the newly approved PSE&G project, for example, the utility will hire

nearly 100 workers in the first year to begin installing solar modules on

200,000 utility poles. An additional 100 are expected to be added by Petra

Solar Inc., a South Plainfield, N.J., company that will build the units.Alfredo Matos, PSE&G’s vice president of renewables and energy solutions,

sees many avenues of green growth. Since December, the utility has been

approved for roughly $240 million in energy-efficiency projects, including

the kind of testing Tucker was hired for. Among other plans, PSE&G also

expects to add 600 people to install new energy-efficient street lights."What’s driving it is a conscious decision by society, by our customers,

that they want to have clean air, they want to have a better environment,

they want to have a positive effect on climate change," Matos said. "All

that translates into providing the products and services that our customers

are demanding."Pennsylvania environmental advocates are promoting a similar idea.Gov. Ed Rendell scored a coup when he enticed Spain’s Gamesa Corporacio

Tecnologica, a world leader in wind energy, to plant its U.S. headquarters

in Philadelphia and invest heavily in factories elsewhere in Pennsylvania.Nathan Willcox, the energy and clean-air advocate for PennEnvironment,

cited a 2007 Pew Charitable Trusts study that put the number of

Pennsylvania "clean jobs" at 39,000, a small part of the overall picture

but a good start, he said."For a state that was decimated in the steel industry and losses in the

mining industries, green businesses have offered a definite ray of sunshine

in the state’s economic forecast," Willcox said. And it’s not just

environmentalists on board.Ed Gant, business manager for Local 351 of the International Brotherhood of

Electrical Workers, said he had never seen this much momentum behind solar.

The union has been teaching solar installation to apprentices for four

years."We’re very much a part of this," Gant said.In New Jersey, a recently signed law would require projects that benefit

from Board of Public Utilities funding to pay prevailing union wages.Rutgers University economist James W. Hughes said green industries "could

be a significant source of growth."Hughes, however, said such jobs