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Stimulus funds to offer local youth jobs, solar industry training

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Highways, federal buildings and border crossings are only a few of the projects to be built with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Federal stimulus dollars will also give local youth the training and experience necessary to build careers in a variety of fields, including the green industry.

The San Diego Region received $10.5 million in federal stimulus funds to create 3,200 jobs for youth ages 14 to 24, according to Mayor Jerry Sanders’ office.

The Hire-a-Youth program will be administered by San Diego Workforce Partnership, which is joining with a host of service providers, nonprofits and businesses to provide job opportunities in a variety of fields.

One such program is administered by Metro United Methodist Urban Ministry in partnership with Grid Alternatives. Ten youth have currently been hired on for the program and there are plans to hire more, said Laila Aziz, program manager for United Methodist Urban Ministry.

Youth are trained to install solar panels on low-income homes. The most recent installation was completed in March on four homes built by Habitat for Humanity in the Mount Hope neighborhood.

In addition to serving their communities, youth in the program will earn a North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certificate, which will likely help them secure their next job in the solar industry.

The NABCEP certificate requires education about OSHA regulations for electrical systems and knowledge of the workings of photovoltaic solar panels. Youth will receive training on electrical design and selecting the appropriate system for a particular home or business.

The certification is currently in such high demand, Aziz expects that 80 percent to 90 percent of the youth who complete the program will go on to work in the solar industry.

“It’s a good opportunity,” said 22-year-old Giuseppe Marquez, who is working through the Hire-a-Youth program. “It (the solar industry) is going to grow.”

After completing the program Marquez hopes to find a green job, possibly working as a solar installer, he said.

While most youth in the Hire-a-Youth program are paid minimum wage, $8.25 per hour, youth involved with Grid Alternatives will be paid $10 an hour due to the specialized training they are required to receive, Aziz said. Youth hired into the green training program will work 40 hours a week for the duration of the program.

In order to qualify, youth must meet certain income requirements. A youth that does not qualify as a dependent must have an annual income of less than $10,828 per year, and the requirement increases by $5,996 for each additional family member. A youth from a family of four must have an annual family income of less than $29,980.

The Hire-a-Youth program began May 1 and will run through Sept. 30. Sanders and other elected officials will hold a press conference June 3 at Jackie Robinson YMCA to announce the start of the program.

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1 UserComments
John Alesi 12:41pm February 10, 2011

Hello, I am the President of the Business Association (VVBA) here in Vista, CA. Our Design Committee wants to put light in our downtown are and would like to use solar powered LED lights. We want these lights in the trees or the roof of the surrounding buildings. Please let me know how I would go about this process. Thank you. Phone 760-630-4145