Renewable energy jobs program far from goal

A $500 million Labor Department program created to train workers for green jobs has come up far short of its goals, a report from the agency’s assistant inspector has found. According to the report, only 10 percent of participants have found work so far.

In the report, Assistant Inspector General Elliott Lewis said the low rate makes it improbable that the program will meet the goal of placing nearly 80,000 workers in careers in energy efficiency or renewable energy by 2013.

Another problem the report highlighted is that workers who completed training and were placed in green jobs have faced trouble keeping their posts. Of the 8,035 workers placed, only 1,336 – or 2 percent of the overall target – have retained those jobs for at least six months.

The $500 million allocated for green jobs training was part of the $787 billion stimulus act passed in 2009. Although the money was awarded in a series of grants in 2009 and 2010, only one-third has been spent by grantees. Lewis’ report said the rate of expenditures has been decreasing. The department should consider returning unused money that may not be needed, the report suggests.

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