Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Engine of Growth: Clean-Tech Jobs

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Engine of Growth: Clean-Tech Jobs

Article excerpt

On the campaign trail and during Monday's debate, the Democratic presidential candidates touted "green-collar jobs" as a solution to unemployment. These are manual labor jobs within new clean- technology industries that the politicians say cannot be outsourced. Or, as former President Bill Clinton put it recently, to green a building "somebody's got to be standing on that roof."

Angela Greene is that person on the roof. After losing her job within the printing industry, she finds herself atop a home in Richmond, Calif., installing solar panels.

"I saw I would be able to make a stable income for myself," says Ms. Greene, "and at the same time be able to help my community and the environment."

Clean energy has become a $55-billion-a-year industry worldwide, and its rapid growth is fueling a shortage of workers in emerging hubs like California's Bay Area. Advocates for the poor say there's an opportunity here to rebuild an industrial base of well-paying, low-skilled jobs, but some critics question whether they are overstating the job potential of the sector.

"Nearly every city is vying to become a hub of clean technology or green-collar jobs. Every community college that has any budget to develop a new program is looking at a lot of these new technologies," says Joel Makower, executive editor of greenbiz.com in Oakland, Calif.

Germany's clean energy effort has resulted in 235,600 jobs in 2006. Convinced similar job creation can happen here, Congress last month authorized $125 million for green-collar job training.

The Democratic presidential candidates would go further:

* Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina wants to train and employ at least 150,000 workers a year in new green- energy related jobs.

* Sen. Barack Obama would use some of the $150 billion generated over 10 years by a cap-and-trade program on greenhouse-gas emissions to fund green job-training programs.

* Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has proposed $5 billion of spending on clean-technology investments as part of an economic stimulus package. …

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