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Green Jobs Are New Sunrise Industry

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San Diego leads the state in green jobs for which local colleges now offer training.

— California's green economy is thriving. Green jobs have grown faster than any other type of job in California. In San Diego, they have grown at twice the pace of the rest of the state.

A report published today says green jobs grew at a rate of 3 percent in the state and 6 percent in San Diego, compared to one percent growth for other jobs.

Doug Henton, an analyst with Collaborative Economics prepared the report for Next 10, a non-profit, non-partisan research organization based in San Francisco. He attributed San Diego's lead in this sector to its leadership in the area of biofuels and clean-water technology.

So where are the green jobs? They are in energy generation, with rooftop solar and wind farm projects. They are in energy efficiency, with retrofits of buildings creating jobs for workers. They are also in alternative transportation and fuel.

Henton said clean technology will drive economic growth in the coming years.

"It's an industry that will transform other industries. So when you look down the line, people will be using these technologies in buildings, in transportation and in energy generation. It's already happening. So this is the future. We're at the cutting edge of this and California is the leader."

CleanTECH San Diego, the industry association, now has 800 members. Vice president Jason Anderson said the sector currently employs 120,000 people in the county and that green growth is not overstated.

"Are we expecting too much? Maybe. But I think that's good. I think we need to have high expectations to drive this industry. And the more the consumers are pushing for these types of jobs and these types of applications, that's what's going to create more jobs and more companies," Anderson said.

San Diego has emerged as a hub for algal biofuel research. There are several local firms competing in the race to commercialize algae into biofuel, including Sapphire Energy, General Atomics, Synthetic Genomics and Kent Bioenergy.

Stephen Mayfield, a pioneer in algal research, is with the University of California, San Diego. He is also the director of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology.

He said a green career is an excellent choice for anyone, including older adults thinking of retraining for a new career.

"We call them early adaptors. It's the guys who get in early, who have the best opportunities for growth in this field. I've been working for 20 years on algae and what I've seen over the past three years tells me, the advice I give to my own sons who are in college now, get into the green sector because these are the jobs that are going to be here for the next 20 years," Mayfield said.

San Diego's cleantech industry has launched a new program called EDGE, to train workers in emerging green areas like algae. EDGE stands for educating and developing workers for the green economy. The training is now offered at UCSD and will soon be offered at San Diego State University and Mira Costa College.

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