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California Opens Green Jobs Corps

As an outgrowth of a green jobs law passed last year by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state's chief executive Monday launched the California Green Corps, a community college-based effort to prepare workers for jobs in the renewable energy and environmental sectors.

The announcement came in conjunction with a meeting Schwarzenegger had with Obama administration Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and several mayors from Northern California.

Using $10 million in federal economic stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Labor and an additional $10 million from public-private partnerships, the initial phase of the Green Corps will consist of a 20-month pilot program reaching at least 1,000 California at-risk young adults, a spokesperson for Schwarzenegger said. Last September he signed Assembly Bill 3018 creating the Green Collar Jobs Council, which was charged with creating a "comprehensive, statewide approach" to address workforce needs of the emerging green-based economy.

All of the programs will be public-private partnerships that include green job training, a stipend, an educational requirement and community service. Schwarzenegger, Solis and the mayors went to an existing program at American River College, a community college in the state capital of Sacramento.

"The Green Corps will help underprivileged young people learn job skills while we create a well trained workforce for clean technology and for the green economy," Schwarzenegger said. "I've been pushing for this program for a long time because it combines my passion for the environment, for protecting the economy, creating jobs, career-tech education and helping underprivileged kids, along with of course, service."

Nonprofit organizations, foundations and businesses are all involved in the program. After 20 months in the community college-based program, the graduates will be able to take jobs in one of the renewable, environmental or energy efficiency sectors.

"In the next 20 years, California is going to need a lot of workers to install all of those solar panels, because you remember we passed a Million Solar Roofs initiative, and there are solar panels being put on homes [and businesses] all over the state," said Schwarzenegger, claiming that his state is doing this faster than anyone else in the nation. "We need also more sheet metal workers to produce wind turbines and more construction workers to build cogeneration units."

He called the green job effort "the bottom line," trying in the governor's words to "do it all" by accomplishing social, energy, environmental and economic goals through a single jobs training effort.

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