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Debate rages over 'green' jobs; Who and what are counted isn't always clear

Some, including economist Christopher Thornberg, figure there's some wiggle room in defining exactly what a green job is. "Who the hell knows what they classify as a green job?" Thornberg said. "That's what it boils down to. There are very few jobs you could say are truly green - maybe a solar-panel installer ... but who else?"

More than 500,000 people are employed in "green" jobs in California, and that number is expected to ramp up in the coming years, according to a report released last week.

The Environment California Research and Policy Center report, "Building a Clean Energy Workforce: Preparing Californians for New Opportunities in the State's Green Economy," also documents nearly 300 job-training programs at more than 130 institutions throughout the state.

Those programs have as many as 15,000 students enrolled annually, the report said. Bernadette Del Chiaro, the center's director of clean energy programs, said green jobs are giving the economy a boost.

"Thousands of Californians are seeking refuge from the recession via the growing green-energy economy," she said. "Job-training programs are a critical engine for developing the work force needed to achieve the state's environmental goals."

That may be true. But some, including economist Christopher Thornberg, figure there's some wiggle room in defining exactly what a green job is.

"Who the hell knows what they classify as a green job?" Thornberg said. "That's what it boils down to. There are very few jobs you could say are truly green - maybe a solar-panel... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

More than 500,000 people are employed in "green" jobs in California, and that number is expected to ramp up in the coming years, according to a report released last week.

The Environment California Research and Policy Center report, "Building a Clean Energy Workforce: Preparing Californians for New Opportunities in the State's Green Economy," also documents nearly 300 job-training programs at more than 130 institutions throughout the state.

Those programs have as many as 15,000 students enrolled annually, the report said. Bernadette Del Chiaro, the center's director of clean energy programs, said green jobs are giving the economy a boost.

"Thousands of Californians are seeking refuge from the recession via the growing green-energy economy," she said. "Job-training programs are a critical engine for developing the work force needed to achieve the state's environmental goals."

That may be true. But some, including economist Christopher Thornberg, figure there's some wiggle room in defining exactly what a green job is.

"Who the hell knows what they classify as a green job?" Thornberg said. "That's what it boils down to. There are very few jobs you could say are truly green - maybe a solar-panel installer ... but who else?"

The report says that the skills required of a worker in a green job often overlap with those needed for more traditional occupations.

Many workers can transfer their existing skills to a new green job, the study said, if they receive specialized training to fully take advantage of green-job opportunities.
Electricians, for example, must perform many of the same steps when working in an energy-efficient building as in a conventional one. But they must also be aware of the building's overall energy usage and avoid compromising its insulation or allowing air to leak in.

Likewise, a mechanic servicing an electric vehicle may require additional training to deal with more sophisticated electronics and braking. But other systems within the electric car may be identical to a conventional, gasoline-powered car.

Gino DiCaro, a spokesman for the California Manufacturers and Technology Association in Sacramento, has some thoughts on that.

"By any estimate, green jobs are a small percentage of California's overall work force," he said. "The Brookings Institution was counting green jobs throughout the country and they said California had about 332,000 green jobs - and they're including public mass-transit operators."

DiCaro agreed with Thornberg that there has been broad latitude in defining what constitutes a "green" job.

"My point is they had a loose definition of it, and they only got to 332,000 jobs," he said. "That would still be only about 2 percent of our overall work force. If this other report says there are 500,000 green jobs what would that be - about 2.5 percent?"

Regardless of the percentage, few would argue that a growing number of jobs in the building and transportation industries are embracing green policies and standards.

The Environment California Research and Policy Center report notes, for instance, that California's Clean Cars Program and the low-carbon fuel standard will result in sweeping changes in vehicle and fuel technology.


Source: http://www.sbsun.com/busine...

AUG 1 2011
http://www.windaction.org/posts/31545-debate-rages-over-green-jobs-who-and-what-are-counted-isn-t-always-clear
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