October 19, 2021


Green Jobs on Horizon for Jacksonville

Cynthia Barnett | 11/1/2009

Solar Energy Initiatives
Solar Energy Initiatives retrains laid-off workers for green jobs
All the talk out of Washington and Tallahassee about the new green economy and green jobs poses a question: Exactly what — and where — are all these green jobs, anyway?

Northeast Florida has part of the answer, thanks to Jacksonville non-profit job agencies that have hooked up with the private sector to train local laid-off workers as solar energy installation and maintenance technicians.

Under the program, called Renew the Nation, Ponte Vedra Beach-based Solar Energy Initiatives will provide eight-week training sessions for displaced workers identified by the Northeast Community Action Agency and Worksource. The Community Rehabilitation Center will manage the program, which is being funded with a $387,000 federal stimulus grant.

“There are literally thousands of jobs needed to accelerate the green economy, and most of those are technicians,” says Greg Bakeman, president and CFO at Solar Energy Initiatives, which builds large-scale solar parks and operates a national dealer network of installers. “It’s one thing to fund solar and make it available on a wide scale, but if you don’t have anyone to install the components, the green economy stalls.”

Greg Bakeman
Bakeman says Solar Energy Initiatives began working on training solutions when the company’s dealers couldn’t find the labor they needed to install and maintain solar thermal and photovoltaic systems. He and Jacksonville officials who launched the project described Florida as lagging in its investment into new-economy job training. “Florida is a sunshine state,” says Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Brown. “We shouldn’t be behind the curve.”

The program will roll out in stages, training 40 technicians at a time and making sure they find employment before taking on another class.

Tags: Northeast, Energy & Utilities, Environment


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