'Green' jobs may help transform economy

October 1, 2008 7:25:01 PM PDT
The nation's economy may be in crisis today, but some experts foresee significant growth in the future in so-called "green collar" jobs.

"These are the jobs already being created in San Francisco," Mayor Gavin Newsom has said.

Requests for solar panels in San Francisco have quadrupled since the city began a rebate program for installations in July, according to Newsom, and that has led to the hiring of eight people, including Alan Clyburn.

"It's hands-on training with electrical, solar," Clyburn said. "It's good for the environment."

Eight jobs may not sound like much, but a new study to be released Thursday by the nation's mayors says more than 4 million green jobs could be created over the next three decades.

The green economy is just beginning, Van Jones said. Jones has written a book on the emerging green economy.

"It would be like going to Silicon Valley before it blew up and saying, 'I just see a couple of guys with computers, it's no big deal,'" Jones said. "It's the beginning of a very big deal."

Solar installation is the most obvious component of green technology, but it is not the only sector of the green collar economy. Green technology also includes recycling, bicycle repair and landscaping.

Raquel Pinderhughes teaches urban studies at San Francisco State University and has published studies in the impact of the green economy.

"We don't have a hard number, but we can reasonably and reliably say that there is more work to be done than there are people currently prepared to do it," Pinderhughes said.

That is where the Menlo Park program Job Train comes into play. It is offering a new class on solar installations. About two dozen students have already graduated, some into jobs paying as much as $35 per hour.


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