Green collar jobs provide pathway out of poverty, says new SF State study
Bay Area research links green boom with new opportunities for hard to employ workers
SAN FRANCISCO, December 10, 2007 -- A new study by San Francisco State University Professor Raquel Pinderhughes reveals that green collar jobs present unique opportunities for low income workers to find meaningful, living wage jobs.
From bike repair services to solar installation, the green economy is poised to increase dramatically. In a first-of-its-kind study, Pinderhughes examines how this boom can be harnessed to provide jobs for people facing barriers to employment: youth and adults without a high school degree, those formerly incarcerated or who have been out of work for a long time.
"Poverty and unemployment are significant problems in the Bay Area," says Professor Pinderhughes. "This study shows unequivocally that green collar jobs can provide workers with limited labor market skills with good jobs that can lift them out of poverty."
Based on in-depth interviews with the owners and managers of more than 20 Berkeley-based green businesses, the study demonstrates how green collar jobs can provide positive career pathways for people who are hard to employ. Entry barriers are low: 86 percent of green businesses surveyed hire workers with no previous direct experience, and 94 percent provide on-the-job training for employees in entry level positions. Meanwhile, green businesses are searching for new people to develop: 73 percent of businesses said there was a shortage of qualified workers for their sector.
Interviews were also conducted with unemployed people in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and Richmond, 89 percent of whom said they wanted to learn more about green collar job opportunities.
A professor of urban studies at SF State, Pinderhughes has pioneered research into green collar jobs, a term which she has expanded and revised to mean blue collar jobs in green businesses.
The study was funded by the City of Berkeley's Office of Energy and Sustainable Development. Although it focuses on Berkeley, the study includes valuable recommendations for the wider Bay Area. The report has been shared with policymakers in San Francisco's Department of the Environment, and City Council members in Berkeley, Oakland and Richmond.
"City governments are starting to become interested in green collar jobs but they haven't done a lot about them," says Pinderhughes. "Local governments need to foster effective partnerships between job training programs and local green businesses, and to establish green business councils."
Pinderhughes' study outlines a practical model for training workers and connecting them with green jobs. Her prototype has already been adopted by the Oakland City Council which will launch its Green Job Corps program in 2008. The City has allocated $250,000 in seed funding for a program which will prepare dozens of Oakland residents for jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and will serve as a model for the nation.
Pinderhughes is a consultant for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and its campaign work on green jobs. "Professor Pinderhughes' study is a major leap forward in our understanding of how to harness green business growth to fight both pollution and poverty," says Van Jones, founder and President of the Ella Baker Center. "These findings have provided us with critical guidance as we develop the Oakland Green Jobs Corps, the nation's first attempt to carry out the model that Pinderhughes' study proposes."
To download the full report, see Professor Pinderhughes' web page at: http://bss.sfsu.edu/raquelrp/
Professor Pinderhughes can be contacted at (415) 338-7520 (office), (510) 289-2211 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For interviews with green businesses and green collar workers, please contact Elaine Bible in University Communications: (415) 405-3606 or email@example.com.
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