Green jobs coming to Albuquerque

By Marjorie Childress The New Mexico Independent Creating the “green economy” is the new mantra these days and along with it comes new “green collar” jobs, something not lost on politicians or community organizers who want to see those jobs go to local people. Gene Grant noted in his Albuquerque Journal column yesterday that venture capitalists and entrepreneurial talent are in overdrive to create companies in Albuquerque using new green technologies emerging from national research institutions. We’re also seeing large scale manufacturing companies set up shop in Albuquerque, such as Advent Solar and Schott Solar. These companies, along with various other kinds of green ventures, need a sustainable base of skilled workers in order to be successful in the long run. For this reason, the timing is right for the “Albuquerque Green Job Corps,” a training program introduced by City Councilors Debbie O’Malley, Rey Garduño, Michael Cadigan and Isaac Benton at the city council meeting last night. It would fund the creation of a jobs program that would train and then match local people with new jobs in the green economy sector. City Councilors worked with 1Sky New Mexico organizers to develop the job training program concept. According to 1Sky Campaign Manager Keegan King, the program is modeled on a highly successful Oakland Jobs Corp program. The Oakland program also spurred the inclusion of green collar jobs funding in the federal 2007 Energy Bill. “We worked closely with the organizers at Green For All, the group behind the Oakland initiative, to design a program for Albuquerque that will create a qualified workforce to fill jobs in green businesses,” King said. “This is a city-funded pilot project which we hope will make the case for state level funding in 2009.” Local educational institutions would be invited to submit a proposal to participate in the program, and successful applicants would receive funding to create vocational programs for green jobs. The program also provides for paid internships with green businesses, as well as job coaching support, placement and retention services, and assistance for graduates seeking to further their education at local community colleges or in union apprenticeship programs. Councilor Garduño in a press release by 1Sky New Mexico had this to say about the jobs program: “Albuquerque is leading the way in providing sustainable employment in environmentally friendly trades with the Green Jobs Corps. By building a workforce trained in industries like solar installation and manufacturing we are investing in the future of our city.” Councilor O’Malley added that “We have a great opportunity to do something good for the environment and at the same time provide jobs in a green economy.” And it seems there’s agreement in other branches of city government as well. On Wednesday of last week Mayor Martin Chávez signed a “Green Jobs Pledge” at the ICLEI summit, held in Albuquerque, committing the city to invest in community-based jobs training to ensure a skilled local workforce for emerging green industries. The green jobs pledge signed by the mayor was developed in part by the folks at Green For All, who also provided help with the creation of the city council initiative. Such across the board agreement bodes well for the future of Albuquerque workers, as well as the companies who depend on them. Read the full story...

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