Growing Green Jobs
In a world increasingly driven by sustainable technologies, green jobs are a beacon of hope to grow the workforce while working towards a cleaner future.
SBCS, formerly known as South Bay Community Services, is a community-based nonprofit organization that provides a wide range of services for children, youth and families in San Diego County. Among those services is an internship program designed to help youth get trained for quality jobs so they and their families thrive in San Diego.
SBCS has integrated green jobs into their current internship programs – a way for youth, ages 16 to 25, to make a living wage while also training for a good career.
“Green jobs are a huge growth industry. It’s going to be a big part of our lives the next 10 to 20 years,” said Chris Zures, SBCS Program Manager. “We see that as an opportunity to train our young people and educate them to get these jobs.”
Empowering Youth Through Opportunity
For decades, SBCS has been an unwavering advocate for underserved communities. Through its green jobs training program, the organization hopes young people leave feeling confident, successful and ready for their careers.
“The youth we work with in our program are mostly probation, foster youth and system-impacted,” Zures said. “They don’t always have the opportunities at long, paid internships.”
Through partnerships in the community, SBCS can offer internships in various industries, including the solar industry. The nonprofit teamed up with GRID Alternatives to educate and train youth about solar panels – from how they work to how they are installed and more.
“These internships are really valuable because [they allow] our youth an opportunity to learn very valuable skills and get paid a living wage while they develop the skills,” Zures said.
Daniel Munoz is a current SBCS intern working with GRID Alternatives. After graduation, he said one of his teachers referred him to the program. He’s confident the skills he learned will offer him a bright future.
“I have learned a lot in this program – how to use power tools, OSHA standards and how to install solar panels,” Munoz said. “This will help in the future get more experience and get more job opportunities.”
By offering paid internships, training and hands-on experience in the solar industry, SBCS and GRID Alternatives are laying the foundation for a diverse and skilled workforce.
The impact of this collaboration extends far beyond the individual. The solar industry, with its promise of sustainability and reduced carbon footprint, has the potential to help local communities cut down on energy consumption.
As each intern learns the ins and outs of the solar industry, they simultaneously contribute to creating cleaner, more energy-efficient neighborhoods. This partnership’s ripple effect shines through the improved quality of life for residents, reduced energy costs and increased awareness of renewable energy.
It’s a win for employers, too, as many have raved to SBCS about the type of employees they mentor.
“The feedback we get from employers is ‘If all our employees were like this, our company would be more efficient. Do you have more employees like this?’,” Zures said.
SBCS is a recent recipient of a Science & Technology grant at San Diego Foundation (SDF).
As the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and the Brookings Institution outlined in “Future of Growth in San Diego: The Economic Case for Inclusion and Building San Diego’s Talent Pipeline,” San Diego has become an innovation powerhouse. Despite this great potential, not all San Diegans benefit from the advances of the innovation economy. The San Diego region needs more highly skilled workers to maintain its competitive edge.
Since 1999, the SDF Science & Technology Program has granted more than $10.3 million to support scientists and engineers in San Diego. The program is funded in part by the Blasker-Rose-Miah Endowment Fund at SDF and The Reuben H. Fleet Foundation.
For more information about the SDF Science & Technology Program, visit SDFoundation.org/STEM.