Green Jobs Could Save Low Income Workers
December 12, 2007 4:03 PM
A recent study by SF State urban studies professor Raquel Pinderhughs finds that blue collar jobs in green businesses, or what she calls “green collar jobs,” are creating special opportunities for low income workers to find living wage jobs that not only provide income to feed their families and themselves, but is also working towards preserving the environment, according to an SF State press release.
“Poverty and unemployment are significant problems in the bay Area,” said Pinerhughes, a consultant for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. “The study shows unequivocally that green collar jobs can provide workers with limited labor market skills with good jobs and lift them out of poverty."
Derived from a series of interviews with over 20 Berkeley-based green business owners and managers, the study found that 86 percent of green businesses hired workers with little to no previous work experience where 96 percent were provided with on-the-job training for entry level employees.
The demand for more workers in green collar jobs was also overwhelming, were 73 percent of business owners and managers felt that there was a shortage of qualified workers.
Of the unemployed people surveyed in the Bay Area, who were also interviewed for the study, 89 percent expressed a large interest in learning more about blue collar jobs for green businesses.
Pinderhughes also provides conventional guidelines for a model to train workers and provide opportunities for workers to apply for green jobs.
“Professor Pinderhughes’ study is a major leap forward in our understanding of how to harness green business growth to fight both pollution and poverty,’ said Van Jones, president and founder of the Ella Baker Center, were they are campaigning to develop green jobs, which Jones claims is “the nation’s first attempt to carry out the model that Pinderhughes’ study purposes.”
Though the study was funded by the City of Berkeley’s Office of Energy and Sustainable Development and was conducted on Berkeley businesses only, the report has also been shared with policymakers in San Francisco’s Department of Environment as well as city council members all over the Bay Area, such as Oakland and Richmond.
Pinderhughes’ study has also been adopted by the Oakland City Council which is launching the Green Job Corps program in 2008, where the city has allocated $250,000 that will prepare dozens of jobs for Oakland residents in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
“Local governments need to foster effective partnerships between job training programs and local green businesses, and to establish green business councils,” said Pinderhughes about the need to foster more government interest on the subject.
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