Work Scarce for Obama's Green Job Training Grads


Tax Incentives and Credits Needed

Asheville Buncombe's Garrett pointed out that growth in the green sector has been inhibited because many consumers are hesitant to spend money on the relatively high initial costs of "going green."

"In a tight economy, people are cautious," she said. "They're not inclined to open up their pockets for something like home energy efficiency retrofits because it's very intangible."

That's a concern echoed by other green training program coordinators. Woodring said it will take things like tax incentives and credits for solar energy to coax consumers into using green products and services.

For now, many green job training program coordinators say the remedy for the difficulty with placing graduates in green jobs will be, quite simply, time.

"I think we have to see some recovery to the economy before we're going to be able to move at any good pace into the green jobs," said Woodring. She added that consumers need to be patient with new green technologies because, although they are pricey now, they won't always be. Woodring compared it with the initial high cost of computers when they were first put on the market. "As we produce more, it will get better," she said. "It will become a bit more affordable."

Signs of Hope

While areas such as green building construction are suffering due to a hard hit from the housing slump, areas such as the wind turbine industry appear to be growing significantly. A "Careers in Wind Energy" report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in November 2010 called wind power "the fastest growing sector in renewable energy," with more than 10,000 megawatts of new wind energy capacity having been installed in 2009, the most in any year so far.

Oates said certain green jobs such as conservation and recycling, solar panel manufacturing, and wind turbine technicians have seen significant job growth. "I think we are seeing positive outcomes," she said. "And I think as the economy improves, we'll only accelerate the positive outcomes that we're witnessing."

Woodring, with Workforce Connection, said it's important for green job training graduates to remain optimistic. She points to some success stories as hope for recent graduates. Take 35-year-old Jason Warble for example. He was jobless for four months, until he signed up for green job training with Workforce Connection.

About a month after completing training, he landed a job that he loves, as a landscaper for PROscape in Florida. His advice for potential green employees: "You take advantage of [training programs]. You get in there, and you learn it... Any training and knowledge you can get in life is always a good thing."

As for Brian Williams in Ocala, Fla., he said he remains optimistic about getting a job in the solar field and wants to eventually start his own solar installation company. contributor Amy Rigby is a member of the ABC News on Campus bureau in Gainesville, Fla.

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