Monday, July 28, 2008

Green Jobs Initiative Added to No Worker Left Behind

Despite the Senate Republicans best attempts to block job creation in the alternative energy field, gosh darn it we are going to create some jobs anyway and we will need trained people to fill them. Last Friday, in celebration of the one year anniversary of the No Worker Left Behind program, it was announced that $6 million will be set aside for the Green Jobs Initiative, a program that will train displaced workers for careers in alternative/renewable energy.

One of the great things about this, besides people getting jobs of course, is that it was picked up by the national media and energy blogs around the country - and that will help change the perception that Michigan isn't a "green" state. From MSN/AP -

Granholm plans to announce Friday in Traverse City that the No Worker Left Behind program will put more effort into preparing laid-off workers for alternative energy careers. The program overall will get a financial boost in its second year.

The governor is carving out about $6 million in the budget year that starts Oct. 1 for her Green Jobs Initiative that will promote job training in alternative energy industries including wind, solar and biofuels.

Granholm's office said that Biotech Agronomics, a Beulah company that converts wastewater sludge into usable materials for agriculture, already has hired five No Worker Left Behind graduates for such jobs.

The goal of the No Worker Left Behind program is to take workers who have lost manufacturing jobs or other positions no longer in demand and retrain them for employment in one of several high-demand fields. Workers can use the free tuition at any Michigan community college or other approved training course.

The AP reports that $177 million will be available for NWLB. Not sure where they are getting that number; the state release says around $40 million from the feds, and somehow we managed to wrangle $15 million from the state budget. 31,000 people have already entered training thanks to No Worker, 11,000 have completed training, and 9,100 are on waiting lists - it's a very popular program. The bulk of the jobs that are available now are in health care, but colleges are seeing an increased interest in energy careers. Lansing Community College graduated its first wave of alternative energy students last spring and they are filling up for fall-

Janice Marshall, Lansing Community College: "Our enrollments are up this semester, as we're preparing for fall semester several of our alternative energy courses are already full, we've opened up additional sections to meet the increasing need"

Administrators say many of those students owe their education to the state's No Worker Left Behind Program.

Janice Marshall: "We know approximately 100 students at the Lansing Community College have participated through the No Worker Left Behind program just this past semester."

Green jobs initiatives are popping up all over the country, good to see we are getting our name in the spotlight as well. Having a trained workforce will help entice alternative energy employers to the state - even when our Senate Republicans are doing everything they can to turn that business away.