People out of work learn green tech

March 13, 2009 7:11:51 PM PDT
The federal stimulus package has $500 million set aside for training in 'green collar' jobs. If Skyline College in San Bruno is any example, that training is in high demand.

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Jack Wong is a painter who is struggling in this recession.

"I'm out of work and I'm looking for a job in the solar industry," Wong said.

Omer Thompson is a Skyline College professor and Friday was day one of solar insulation training that is offering many people hope of future work.

"It's kind of a gift in disguise, I was let go but now I'm able to attend school," Eli Ortega said.

There are 20 students enrolled in the class and 30 more on a waiting list.

"He read the names on the waiting list and I got one of two spots for the people that didn't show up, so I got really lucky," Colin Dougherty said.

Skyline College made its own luck by successfully nabbing part of a $1.9 million federal grant from the labor department to help train 250 people in clean energy careers.

"This is really a twofold win-win situation because we're able to do something at the community college which allows people to find employment but also allows them to meet their own personal commitment to making a difference in the environment," Thompson said.

Students like Monica Martinez already have that green commitment.

"I graduated from San Francisco State in natural resource management and conservation," she said.

Before hitting the solar installation books, Thompson took his students on a field trip to Half Moon Bay to track the sun and get a look at a working solar system. John Rose has not had an electric bill since he installed his panels three years ago.

In eight weeks, these students will have the knowledge to install their own solar system.

If clean energy continues its growth, Wong will have a job and Martinez a greener environment.

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