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Young adults train for green jobs

Young adults train for green jobs(By Elisha Sauers via HometownAnnapolis.com)Local Job Corps graduates might be green when it comes to work experience,

but now they have new "green" skills to set them apart as they enter the

job market.Elisha Sauers — The Capital Robert Owens, 23, Michael Wooley, 23, and Anna

Smallwood, 21, are students in the new “green jobs” training program at the

Woodland Job Corps Center. Over the past two weeks, they and other students

helped install this solar-panel system in their school’s parking

lot.AdvertisementWoodland Job Corps Center, located on the edge of Anne Arundel County in

Laurel, is the first Job Corps school nationwide to officially offer

solar-panel installation training, the local Job Corps staff said.About 75 students from low-income backgrounds throughout the region - all

of whom are currently unemployed - will be in the first class of

participants this year, officials said.Job Corps is a free education and technical program for disadvantaged

students between the ages of 16 and 24, funded by the U.S. Department of

Labor.This "green job" program - known by its technical term as photovoltaic

installation - was created through a partnership of the Woodland Job Corps

Center, Anne Arundel Community College and the Chesapeake chapter of

Independent Electrical Contractors.During the past two weeks, licensed contractors have advised the students

as they have learned hands-on, building a five-panel, solar-energy system

at the Woodland site.The professionals from IEC Chesapeake have donated about 145 work hours to

help initialize the program. With approval from the North American Board of

Certified Energy Practitioners, a volunteer board of renewable-energy

representatives, the chapter can administer an entry-level certificate of

knowledge for solar installation.Congressional representatives, students and instructors officially launched

the program during a ceremony yesterday at the Woodland site, with a

ribbon-cutting for the completed solar panels at the school.Kevin Boston, Woodland's business and community liaison manager, said the

new program is a great way for the development center to celebrate its 45th

anniversary of services to young people in the Chesapeake region.Anna Smallwood, 21, was one of the students who helped build the

solar-panel system and currently is training to become an independent

electrical contractor."It makes me feel good," she said about her new skill set. "(Baltimore Gas

and Electric Co. rates) have gone up so much since 2005, so I think it's

better for everyone to learn about solar energy. It saves money,

electricity and it's good for the environment."Though Smallwood and some of her Job Corps peers agree that the economy has

created a bleak job market, they said they have newfound confidence because

of the training they are receiving.Many of them said they believe that jobs in the field of renewable energy

are part of a growth industry."Being in the program helps us get a step forward," said Kelita Winston,

22, a Woodland student ambassador.Michael Wooley and Robert Owens, both 23, said they've already learned a

lot about photovoltaic technology through the training program. While

pointing out the silicon grid on the modules, they explained how the panels

were positioned at just the right angle to take advantage of the most

sunlight throughout the day.During a blazing hot, cloudless day yesterday, the system was no doubt at

its peak performance. But even on an overcast day, the panels will continue

to charge and have a high-voltage current running through them, Wooley said.And the green is spreading. The community college also will offer the

photovoltaic training as part of its continuing-education program.Laura E. Weidner, executive director of the school's Center for Workforce

Solutions, said she anticipates the classes will attract many professional

electricians and carpenters.Many tradesmen these days are looking f