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City launches program to train green workers

President-Elect Barack Obama pledged to create $5 million new ‘green collar’ jobs during his presidential campaign. Boston City Councilors are now introducing initiatives to make sure green jobs come to Boston.

Boston City Councilors Michael Ross (Back Bay, Fenway, Kenmore) and Charles Yancey (Dorchester), along with Councilor-At-Large Michael Flaherty and Council President Maureen Feeney, introduced a proposal that would expand Boston’s job market by creating a ‘green work force.’

Councilors have not outlined how much the city would spend on its specialized workforce, nor how many workers it would hire. Still, Flaherty said the new green jobs will help unemployed locals by creating innovative training opportunities for workers facing employment barriers.

‘This is about more than creating new jobs,’ he said. ‘It is also about creating a better environment.

‘We need to turn Beantown into Greentown,’ he added.

The City Council’s proposal defines a ‘green workforce’ as a cluster of jobs that will integrate environmentally friendly technologies into already available jobs. The new green jobs will be targeted at low-income workers, according to the proposal.

Jim Hunt, Mayor Thomas Menino’s Chief of Environmental and Energy Services, said to lead the country in sustainability, Boston should focus on developing and improving technology that involves solar power, battery technologies and energy efficiency. Hunt said he is confident that a monetary investment in clean energy technology will ultimately pay back more than what is originally invested.

‘We need to keep Boston on the cutting edge of green economy,’ he said.

Conny Doty, Menino’s director of Jobs and Community Service, said that if the city does not train workers now, many could lose their jobs because they lack the proper training to compete in a technologically driven workforce.

Doty said the green workforce will target low-to-moderate income laborers and youths with the help of federal investments.’

Many buildings like the John Hancock building already implement green technology by using a reflective glaze coating on all of its windows, which helps heat the building and keeps the windows from cracking.

Boston Building Trades Council Director Jim Coyle said existing technologies can go a long way toward conserving energy, but workers need more on-the-job experience in emerging technologies if they are to keep up with other cities.

‘It is important for trades to keep up, and we will continue to improve our training programs,’ he said.

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