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Unemployed seek training for green-collar jobs

Unemployed seek training for green-collar jobs(Via MSNBC)SAN JOSE, Calif. - As the economy sheds jobs, community colleges across the

country are reporting a surge of unemployed workers enrolling in courses

that offer training for "green-collar" jobs.Students are learning how to install solar panels, repair wind turbines,

produce biofuels and do other work related to renewable energy."I think the opportunities in this field are going to be huge," said Rudy

Gastelo, a part-time handyman who left the construction industry two years

ago. "I'm not getting that 9-to-5 paycheck, so I'm looking forward to maybe

getting a job within a solar company."To meet growing demand, two-year colleges are launching or expanding green

job training with money from the federal stimulus package.Students and schools are betting that President Barack Obama's campaign to

promote alternative energy and curb global warming will create millions of

well-paying green jobs that do not require a four-year degree.Gastelo, 32, is learning how to install solar power systems at San Jose

City College, which has long waiting lists for such classes.But the steep economic downturn has not spared the green energy industry,

which had been expanding rapidly before the financial crisis. Many

renewable-power firms are now canceling projects, laying off workers or

selling themselves to competitors because business has dried up."It's going to be a very tough year. A lot of companies are not going to

make it," said Ron Pernick, co-founder of the market research firm Clean

Edge Inc.Many newly trained workers are having trouble finding jobs, and some people

worry that schools could end up producing too many workers for too few jobs."Even in these areas with great potential, the number of actual positions

is way down from where they could be," said Barry Sedlick, who chairs the

California Green Collar Jobs Council.But many college officials believe there will be strong demand for

green-collar workers once the economy rebounds and governments move to

limit greenhouse gas emissions and require more alternative energy.The federal stimulus package sets aside tens of billions of dollars to

promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. It will also create

thousands of jobs retrofitting government buildings and public housing to

make them more energy-efficient."The recovery package will help move industry forward and offer a lot of

opportunities for workers at all levels," said Mindy Feldbaum, director of

workforce development programs at the National Institute for Work and

Learning.The renewable energy industry generated about 500,000 jobs and $43 billion

revenue in the U.S. in 2007. The much broader energy-efficiency industry

generated 8.6 million jobs and $1 trillion in revenue, according to a

report issued in January by the American Solar Energy Society.The study projected that the two sectors could employ 16 million to 37

million people by 2030, depending on government policy.In Florida, Palm Beach Community College expects to enroll 200 students

this fall — up from 20 students last fall and 150 students this spring — in

a new associate degree program that focuses on alternative energy sources

such as wind, solar or hydroelectric power.Associate Dean Sam Freas is optimistic about green energy's long-term

prospects, but he is careful to set realistic expectations among students."They look at me and say, 'Can you guarantee me a job?'" he said. "And the

answer is, 'Absolutely not.'"In North Carolina, Central Carolina Community College has long waiting

lists for green building and renewable energy classes. The school recently

created an associate degree for sustainable fuel production."The perception is that there is just a ton of these green jobs already out

there," said Andrew McMahan, who coordinates the biofuels program. "The

reality is that they are coming, but like any other industry it needs time

to mature."In Michigan, which has the na