Free workshops offer training in 'green' skills

  • Article by: DEE DePASS
  • Star Tribune
  • September 27, 2011 - 9:12 PM

The BlueGreen Alliance Foundation and Minnesota Workforce Centers will offer 10 free energy, pollution and water conservation classes to 200 applicants starting this week.

The alliance's 10 "GreenPOWER" workshops will be held across the Twin Cities and are available to jobless workers and those who are employed and want to learn how to make their companies more profitable and efficient. The one-day training workshops will focus on reducing factory waste, conserving water, slashing energy use and pollution and on ways that green practices perk up the bottom line.

"These are skills that businesses will need going forward in a green economy," said Brant Ingalsbe, director of the GreenPOWER program.

The workshops are funded with part of the $5 million federal stimulus grant that the Blue Green Alliance Foundation won last year. The funds are set to expire by year's end. The new training comes at a time when green jobs are being pushed nationwide and across Minnesota as a possible economic engine.

The state has about 200,000 unemployed residents actively looking for work.

To date 1,200 participants have taken GreenPOWER training, including 750 unemployed job seekers. A third of those landed a job at 160 companies based on their new training.

"This is something that gives people skills that will be in demand for a long time," said John Schmitt, labor market economist for the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "Sometimes [such federal stimulus] training is not matched to employers' needs. But in this case, we are talking about how to keep energy costs low. This will only be more in demand in the years ahead."

Schmitt noted that energy conservation efforts within factories often offer a more immediate "bang for the buck" than solar panels and windmills.

Previously, the BlueGreen Alliance's jobs training took place in union halls and community colleges. But this fall the classes, with 20 students each, will be held in five Minnesota Workforce Centers.

The center at 777 E. Lake St. in Minneapolis has a class on Sept. 30 and Oct. 7, 14, and 21. Other classes will be held at workforce centers in Burnsville (Oct. 10); Brooklyn Park (Oct. 24 and Oct. 31); St. Paul (Oct. 26); and North St. Paul (Nov. 14).

A 10th session already has taken place.

Interested applicants must contact the applicable workforce center to register.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725

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