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Labor Secretary Oversees Push for Green Jobs
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Bridgeport is putting $4 million dollars of stimulus money to work training local people for the green economy. On Monday, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis came to see just how the money’s being used. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

As the rain beats down outside, 70 prospective trainees gather at The Workplace in Bridgeport to hear why they should be interested in green collar jobs.

For project manager Olga Coleman-Williams, this is the first of several orientations that will try to identify 800 likely participants. To qualify for the program the trainees must be either unemployed, a high school dropout, or recently released from prison. Bill Leahy is director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University, and he helped develop the curriculum – he says it’s a mistake to believe you need a high level of education to take advantage of the green economy.

Participant Dave Rodriguez lost his job as a waiter at a country club – he says he’s encouraged by the familiarity of the work outlined at the seminar.

Mathew Marette also hopes the training will lead to something new – he’s a veteran, recently returned from multiple tours of Afghanistan and Iraq.

This session was also a showcase for Labor Secretary Hilda Solis who met briefly with the trainees, and got a tour of the center. She told them the federal government is refocusing its efforts.

The program aims to have at least 350 people gain self sustaining work in their chosen field at the end of the training.

For WNPR, I'm Harriet Jones.