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Editor's Note:  Our guest blogger is Bonnie Graybill, the Deputy Division Chief, Labor Market Information Division from California. 

California’s Labor Market Information Division began studying the green economy in 2008.  Policy makers and lay customers alike wanted to know “what is a green job?”, “how many of them are in the state (and/or my local area)”, and “what kind of training is required?” In order to understand the emerging green economy, we began to read and analyze the many relevant research papers and articles, and to connect with green businesses, university researchers, community colleges and other training providers, LMI staff in other states, and other stakeholders.

We could see that the only way to answer stakeholders’ questions about California’s green jobs was to conduct a survey. When we began this endeavor, there were no special funds for green research—we redirected staff towards this priority activity—create a definition our stakeholders agree to; develop a survey; select a statistically derived sample of over 50,000 California businesses, representing all industries, geographic areas and size classes; mail the survey; and continue to follow up with recipients until we had a sufficient number of responses.  Then the data cleaning and analysis began!

We have finally posted our summary report on our Understanding the Green Economy web page, six months after our goal date of Earth Day 2010.  (We began “leaking” findings then, but the “beg, borrow and steal” approach to staffing this project became a barrier to finalizing the report. Lesson learned…)

In summary, we found about 433,000 green jobs in California, representing about 3.4 percent of California’s employment.  Just under eight percent of California businesses employ workers in green jobs. Almost two-thirds of California businesses have adopted sustainable business practices, creating a demand for more green businesses. Take a look at our report for more findings!

As I prepare to retire from State service at the end of December, I am proud of the work our staff has done to rise to a new challenge, and to demonstrate that LMI staff can be relevant and responsive to a demand for new and emerging information.  Even more, I am proud of California for being a pioneer state in combating climate change, and envision a better future for our children and grandchildren.

Best wishes, Bonnie Graybill 

Editor's Note:  Todd Cohen is our guest blogger from Sustainability Initiatives, American Association of Community Colleges.

Across the country, in an effort to better prepare workers for quality jobs in the green economy, unique partnerships are forming between community colleges and regional councils. In southeast Arizona, a two-year U.S. Department of Labor Pathways Out of Poverty grant being managed by the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) is being used to strengthen this partnership most notably around soft skills training for an array of renewable energy and energy efficiency occupations.

The SouthEastern Arizona Government’s Association (SEAGO) region has been hit hard by the current recession with unemployment rates as high as 16% in many parts of their service area. SEAGO used its strong training partnership with Cochise College, and its strong satellite campuses throughout the region,  to develop flexible and responsive training programs aligned to the needs of the Pathways program.

SEAGO Pathways staff worked directly with the College’s Center for Lifelong Learning to develop a two day soft skills workshop that has become mandatory for all SEAGO Pathways enrollees. The workshop provides one full day of job readiness training and one day of computer training where participants produce a resume of their experience. In addition to providing the participants with needed career skills, the mandatory requirement allows SEAGO to assure a potential employer that a Pathways applicant can perform basic tasks in serving customers appropriately in a business environment. To date, over one hundred individuals have taken the workshop, and more are planned for the coming months. Going forward, the Center will continue to offer trainings in Hazardous Materials Handling and Heavy Equipment Operation, and is exploring the possibility of offering solar training in the near future in response to specific industry demand within the region.

Because some applicants come into the program lacking a GED, SEAGO also engaged the Cochise College Adult Education Department to develop classes specifically for Pathways participants. This is creating a sense of camaraderie among the enrollees and allows the Pathways GED classes to provide another opportunity for learning about the green career trainings they will receive upon graduation. Instructors weave green vocabulary into lessons by including commonly used renewable energy and green building industry terms into word lists. They also include word problems with “green” scenarios and job site math to expose enrollees to as much relevant information as possible about their new career pathway.

 “The partnerships the program has built have been terrific,” said Randy Heiss, SEAGO’s Executive Director. “Not only has the program served to address the needs of Pathways participants, this partnership has provided the College the opportunity to present trainings that it might not otherwise have been able to offer.”

Curriculum and pathways that emerge from this initiative will be disseminated through various channels including the American Association of Community College’s Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) Center which was launched in October. Please visit for more information.

About this Initiative

The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC), in partnership with ICF Macro and Monster Worldwide, received a two-year ARRA funded Pathways Out of Poverty grant from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to develop job training and placement strategies for green jobs in four U.S. regions, in Arizona, Texas and Ohio.

Veterans Green Jobs Video
Posted on November 05, 2010 by Thao Nelson
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November is Veterans Month and we want to showcase green job opportunities for our service men and women on our CoP. The video below highlights a non-profit organization- Veterans Green Jobs based in Denver, Colorado that's working hard to make sure our veterans are connected to green jobs. What's happening in your area to connect veterans to green jobs?