Initiative aims to train displaced workers for green, solar jobs

If you’ve been laid off recently, you’re well aware the job market is grim and competition is fierce for traditional jobs. But it’s not all bad news; many people are finding hope and new career paths by making the transition to green jobs in the renewable energy economy.

But it isn’t so cut and dry—workers looking to make the move to clean energy positions need the skills required to succeed.

An innovative workforce initiative announced this week in Phoenix aims to transition displaced workers into well-paying green jobs by training them for careers in solar installation, energy efficiency, weatherization, and green building construction. The Green Works AZ Program plans to place 200 trained workers in green jobs over the next two years by providing education, job training, apprenticeships, and job placement.

A joint collaboration between Friendly House, Inc., a long-standing Phoenix social services agency; Arizona Public Service Co., an energy company investing in solar and wind; Maricopa County Workforce Connect; and other non-profit organizations, GreenWorksAZ will help supply displaced workers with jobs and local renewable energy employers with a skilled labor force.

APS, An Arizona-based utility company, is funding a substantial amount of the program’s total costs.

"APS has provided an outstanding example of corporate citizenship, and the GreenWorksAZ initiative is timely for jobless Arizonans who are looking to re-enter the workforce during these difficult economic times. Friendly House is proud to partner with APS to put Arizonans back to work," said Terri Leon, Friendly House, Inc., CEO, in a press release.

“The APS Foundation is proud to lend its support of $180,000 for Friendly House to launch this program,” said Don Brandt, CEO and Chairman of APS. “GreenWorksAZ will help Valley-area unemployed workers find new, high-quality jobs, while also providing Arizona’s growing green energy industry with a trained, skilled, local labor force. This program model is a real solution with benefits to Arizona’s communities, our economy and our environment.”

The Friendly House plans to start training workers in January 2011 with input from local employers as to their needs. Recruitment efforts will focus on displaced Phoenix construction workers.

Image courtesy of GreenJobs4All.