Representative Pushes Benefits of 'Green Collar' Jobs

Representative Pushes Benefits of 'Green Collar' Jobs

The U.S. wants to tackle climate change and poverty simultaneously with training programs for eco-jobs targeted at disadvantaged communities.

The environmental sector is an area of great opportunity for the creation of new high quality jobs, especially in the renewables industry, the U.S. select committee on global warming heard on Tuesday during a special hearing entitled "Economic Impacts of Global Warming: Green Collar Jobs."

Proposals on eco-jobs include funding for training courses in areas such as solar panel installation, maintenance of wind farms, re-use and re-cycling, organic agriculture and weatherising buildings.

The approach will help a growing industry expand as well as creating skilled jobs, said Congresswoman Hilda Solis as she addressed the select committee.

"The City of Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board, the Community Development Department, and the Department of Water and Power studied which areas of the economy could provide opportunities for high quality jobs. They found the solar, wind and biomass sectors are great opportunities for employment," she said.

Some businesses and educational institutions have already seized on those opportunities, she added, giving the example of an alternative fuels technology training program ran by Rio Hondo College in partnership with Honda Motors, John Deere and the Robert Bosch Corporation.

"More than 13 million workers this year (one in 10 workers nationally) will seek assistance from an employee training program. This training can lead to self-sufficiency and prosperity through higher wages, access to benefits and more career choices.

"Programs which link green job training to underserved communities in both rural and urban communities present a golden opportunity to advance not only the energy security of our nation, but also the economic security of our families," she said.

The Democrats' proposals are opposed by some Republicans, however, who have said that eco-entrepreneurs should pay for their own training courses.

For more information on Congresswoman Hilda Solis' initiatives, see www.house.gov/solis.