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Oakland's Green Collar Economy to Get to Work With Solar City

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The green collar economy is set to get a boost from a new initiative in Oakland that will partner at-risk young adults with green businesses. On Monday the city of Oakland, with Mayor Ron Dellums, plans to officially launch the Green Collar Jobs Corps program, which, with the help of Foster City, Calif.-based solar installer startup SolarCity, will provide training and employment opportunities for program graduates. The corps was spearheaded by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights which was founded by Van Jones, enviro-social activist and author of The Green Collar Economy.

Van Jones was in San Francisco this week promoting his new book at the recently opened California Academy of Sciences. Jones regaled the audience, which included the Oakland Mayor and some local green entrepreneurs, with his oratory on the potential jobs in “weatherizing and solarizing” our homes (see the video below).

“Green collar jobs” have been touted heavily by Obama who promises 5 million new clean energy jobs with an investment of $150 billion over 10 years. We asked Jones what he thinks of Obama’s numbers and he said he prescribes to the Green Recovery program from the Center for American Progress, where Jones is a senior fellow, which proposed spending $100 billion over two years to create 2 million green jobs.

What the actual cost and time line is for the green collar economy is still unknown, but cleantech startups will need a solid base of well-trained installers and integrators to put up solar panels, construct wind turbines, build fuel-efficient cars and upgrade the electrical grid. While the VCs and entrepreneurs make the cleantech headlines, they will need Jones’s green collar workers to make headway.

And because it’s Friday, here’s Van Jones pitching his hopes for a green collar economy on The Colbert Report.

16 Responses to “Oakland's Green Collar Economy to Get to Work With Solar City”

  1. Donna Reed

    I am a unemployed construction worker that was self employed and I am very interested in learning how to get started with solar power. If there is any way to send me any of this information I would greatly apperciate it. I live in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin on the mississippi river with huge bluffs surrounding us and I think this concept would fly in this area. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

    Donna Reed

  2. Educators say the difference this time is the surging interest in so-called green-collar jobs. President Obama wants to create 5 million of them over the next decade. What isn’t clear is how the US is going to prepare this workforce.

  3. Pat Margulies

    Jones is really inspirational.. his work in helping to bring Ella Baker’s name to the public and his forging ahead on green jobs for the crafts and trades is exceptional.

    Big thanks!

    Pat M.

  4. Good to see some discussion of the critical role that working class opportunities will need to play in the emerging green economy. Note that the $100B figure is roughly equivalent to expected investment in coal-fired power plants in the US within the next decade. Oil refineries and pipelines are also expected to draw about that amount within the same timeframe.