Going Green to Make Green

Students enroll in green jobs training in hopes of catching next economic boom.

ByABC News
January 31, 2009, 11:42 AM

Jan. 31, 2009 -- On a sunny winter's day in Southern California, a group of students sits in windowless classroom at Los Angeles Trade and Technical College, eyeing the contents of small bottles of alternative fuels.

"This is actually biodiesel, but this is not derived from the soy bean, this one is actually a plant," explains associate professor Jess Guerra to the group.

Guerra teaches a "Diesel Technology" class to those hoping to become part of the green work force, where she instructs the fine points of biofuels. It's a technology that could be just one of the businesses with the potential to drive the U.S. economy right out of the ditch.

Labor experts predict renewable energy and energy efficiency industries could create as many as 37 million jobs -- and students at technical colleges like this one are counting on it.

With President Barack Obama's pledge this week to renew the U.S. economy and jump-start the nation's clean energy future, it's a job outlook that's pretty bright.

Across the country, hundreds of thousands of students, those with jobs and those in search of good work, are now "greening" their skill set in hopes of competing for a host of environmentally friendly jobs, from electricians and metal workers to environmental scientists.

Some of the most promising money-makers are in the fields of wind power development and manufacturing, solar power, fuel cells (low polluters which generate electrical power quietly and efficiently) and, of course, biofuels.

Earlier this week in California, a "Dream Green Job" fair attracted hundreds of San Francisco Bay Area job-seekers to an event at the Commonwealth Club.

"I'm looking for something that really aligns with who I am and what I want to be doing in the world," said Jessica Zdeb, who's searching for a green job.

In addition to representatives from job networking Web sites and green industries like solar power, there were colleges and universities spreading the word about their course offerings, training and degree programs promising to prepare adult students for a greener future.