http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2008/08/08/new-energy-means-new-types-of-jobs


Danville Express

Newsfront - August 8, 2008

New energy means new types of jobs

Summit to focus on training for the changing industry

by Meghan Neal

As more and more people explore using alternative energy for their homes and businesses, it marks a shift in public attitude; it also means a growing demand for workers to fill new "green collar" jobs.

At the Tri-Valley Business Council's upcoming summit, experts will discuss strategies to increase the talent pool in the energy industry, starting at the very beginning: education.

"The idea would be to have a comprehensive field of study for students to have a career in energy," said Jim Caldwell, executive director of Workforce Incubator, a nonprofit group that manages the education initiative for the TVBC.

"We need an increase in the number of workers," he said. "A whole spectrum of workers, from installers of solar systems all the way to engineers and research scientists."

The Energy Industry Workforce Development Summit on Aug. 13 will include a panel of experts and feature a keynote speech from U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-11th). The goal is to form a partnership between the energy industry and the education system in the region.

The group will talk about creating new courses that focus on energy and the environment, and uniting existing courses to form a pathway toward a career in the field.

Discussion will focus on Tri-Valley area schools, grades 9-16, and expand over time to other areas.

Schools have plans under way to develop new courses, Caldwell said. For example classes in energy sources and energy applications are being created for students at Livermore High School.

"What we're doing with this summit is we're getting industry more engaged in the planning process," he said.

There are two trends contributing to the need for more workers. One is demographics - the baby boomers are retiring. Caldwell relayed a statistic that 43 percent of PG&E's linemen will be eligible for retirement in the next five years.

The other is the increasing use and production of renewable energy solutions, which "will mean hundreds of thousands of new, green collar jobs," said McNerney. "Our region is well-positioned to capitalize on this tremendous growth."

The TVBC, which represents businesses in Danville, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore, hopes to position the region as a hub for the clean energy industry.

"We're certainly a leader in this area," said Caldwell.

The panel of experts comprises executives from PG&E, Sandia National Laboratories, California State University East Bay, Chabot Las Positas Community College District, Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Program and an energy technology startup.

As we go green

What: Energy Industry Workforce Development Summit

Who: Open to public; education and energy industry leaders encouraged to attend

When: 7:30-11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 13

Where: Las Positas College, 3000 Campus Hill Drive in Livermore

Information: Contact Jim Caldwell at 292-2308 or jcaldwell@workforceincubator.org

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