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August 18, 2011

Green comes in for green job training

Some $300,000 is being rolled out today to help unemployed persons in Lawrence, Haverhill and Methuen be trained and find new jobs in an ever-evolving green economy. '

"Everyone has heard of white-collar and blue-collar jobs. But we have to create a new category — green collar jobs ... There is a wide range of opportunity here in terms of future jobs," said Joseph Bevilacqua, chairman of Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board and president of the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, D-Lowell, and officials from the federal Environmental Protection Agency will unveil the $300,000 "Training for Sustainability" program today. Training will be in the fields of green energy, such as sustainable landscaping, deconstruction, demolition, hazardous waste removal, energy improvement, conservation, and recycling.

"These federal funds will help create a local partnership in the Lawrence area that will provide workers with the critical skills and the training required to compete in the growing green jobs market, while benefiting our environment," Tsongas said.

The state's latest unemployment figures put Lawrence first in the state with a 16.3 percent unemployment rate, well above the national rate of 9.2 percent. Methuen's latest unemployment rate in June was 8.9 percent and Haverhill's rate was 8.3 percent.

Groundwork Lawrence, a local non-profit group, Valleyworks Career Center and local employers Go Green Recycling and RM Technologies, a demolition and asbestos removal service, will partner with the workforce investment board to provide hands on job training and skills development for those who enroll in the program, Tsongas said.

Leaders will gather today at 2 p.m. at Valleyworks Career Center, 439 South Union St., for the official presentation.

Tsongas, Bevliacqua, EPA Deputy Regional Director Ira Leighton, and Heather McCann, Groundwork Lawrence executive director, are expected to attend.

Bevilacqua said the workforce investment board is working with town managers and mayors, Gov. Deval Patrick's office, and the federal government on job training and creation initiatives.

"It's a comprehensive approach we are taking to green jobs," he said.

• • •

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screen name EagleTribJill. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to eagletribune.com.

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