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Wednesday
May042011

Work Is Scarce for Obama's Green Job Training Grads

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Despite new, government-funded green job training programs springing up across the U.S., there's still very few green jobs available for those who manage to graduate from the programs.

According to the most recent data from the BlueGreen Alliance and the Economic Policy Institute, there were 3,586 graduates of Department of Labor-funded green job training programs as of Sept. 30, 2010, but only 466 entered new jobs upon completion of the program.

The program is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and geared toward helping unemployed workers, low-income individuals, high school dropouts or people with criminal records.  Stimulus money for green industry training was funneled through the Labor Department, which reports that $490 million out of the $500 million outlined in the Recovery Act has been awarded; most of the grants were awarded in January 2010.

But many of these training programs say the green jobs are not out there.

As of April 15, only 55 out of 304 green job training program graduates from Workforce Connection, a non-profit organization in Ocala, Florida, have found jobs.  And some of those jobs are not even green.  Workforce has spent about half of its $2.9 million grant and is now working with the Labor Department to modify it to focus more on placing graduates in jobs, rather than training.

Asheville Buncombe Christian Ministry, in Asheville, North Carolina, began a green job training program funded by stimulus dollars in March 2010.  As of April 15, ABCCM has placed 51 of its 111 graduates in jobs, not all of them green.

"As far as green jobs are concerned, the jobs are definitely not waiting there for the graduates," said Susan Garrett, ABCCM's Green Jobs Director.

In Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board is seeing mixed results.  Its weatherization training program has had a high job placement rate, with 15 of its 23 graduates being employed, as of April 15.  But out of more than 100 participants in its "Pathways to Green Jobs" basic skills and green jobs training, only 22 are now employed.

LVWIB's executive director, Nancy Dischinat, said the economy has a lot to do with the lack of green jobs, but she remains optimistic.

"At least we have growth potential there.  We have projected openings," said Dischinat, referring to a report produced by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry that projects 41,190 new green jobs by 2012. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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