In the race to train a “green-collar” work force, a group of former Los Angeles gang members on parole is an early participant, says the Wall Street Journal. Their training is funded by Homeboy Industries, a Los Angeles nonprofit that helps people with criminal pasts find employment. President Obama has made the production of renewable energy one of the pillars of job creation. People are rushing to acquire skills to launch careers in the budding sector.
For years, Homeboy Industries put ex-felons to work at a bakery and cafe it runs in East Los Angeles. Last summer, founder Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest, was approached by a supporter about the idea of preparing them for the green economy. Because job-placement for ex-convicts is especially difficult in a recession, “I leapt at the opportunity,” says Father Boyle, who started Homeboy two decades ago. Homeboy joined with the East Los Angeles Skills Center, a public vocational school that offers a hands-on program to teach the design, construction and installation of solar panels. The course is one of only a few such programs in California and has a long waiting list. Homeboy, funded by individuals, community groups and revenue from its businesses, pays the $131 tuition for each student; it pays participants an hourly wage of $8. The class meets for two months, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.