Going green puts jobless to work

April 21, 2009 7:04:09 AM PDT
Stimulus money is helping out-of-work Philadelphians find new careers.

During the first day of their month-long training, students enrolled in Green Training learned the basics of weather-proofing the windows and doors of a home.

John Beideman, who has a 6-year-old son, hasn't been able to find work as a line cook and had to go on welfare. When he heard about the opportunities in green jobs, he decided to take his career in a different direction.

"It's not only helping us save our environment," said Beideman. "It's given us a way to make money AND save our environment. It's like one hand washes the other."

The program is a direct result of the 5 billion dollars of the stimulus package designated to help people weatherize their homes. Mayor Nutter, who spoke to the students today, says the key to economic recovery is the development of a clean energy economy.

"It's going to create a tremendous number of jobs," said Liz Robinson, executive director of the Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia. "The most labor-intensive form of energy is energy conservation. It requires a lot of work. And the work force just doesn't exist yet."

So the Philadelphia ECA is running the green training programs out of a former textile factory in Kensington to help create that workforce. This is good news for the program's twenty students, who are all currently unemployed.

The month-long training program is funded by a federal grant given to the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation. But the ECA will not receive any money unless each student is placed in a job. So the agency is highly motivated to find these students employment.

"We finish in the middle of May," said Robinson. "We hope by July 1st, everyone will have a job."

And the ECA hopes the success of this training program will lead to more in the months to come.

For more information visit http://www.ecasavesenergy.org/.

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