50,000 new green jobs for young Aussies



Young tradespeople

Credit: iStockphoto

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A wealth of new green jobs and training opportunities will be made available in Australia under a new $94 million plan, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced yesterday.

Speaking at the start of this week's ALP National Conference in Sydney, Rudd gave green jobs pride of place in his opening address, championing a new plan for creating job opportunities and transitioning the country into a greener future.

"The government will now create 50,000 new green jobs, traineeships and apprenticeships aimed chiefly at helping young Australians obtain new skills...which will become highly applicable in the low carbon economy of the future," Rudd said.

The jobs initiative will see the creation of a national Green Jobs Corps, where up to 10,000 young people who have experienced long-term unemployment will be able to take part in a six month environmental training program to gain job-ready skills.

Activities in the program will include bush regeneration and habitat protection, as well as hands on experience installing energy efficiency measures in homes.

A new National Green Skills Agreement under the plan will also see new green skills and knowledge introduced into apprenticeship programs for trade jobs, and is expected to see 30,000 young people in the next two years gain competencies in everything from water recycling in plumbing to green car engines in mechanics.

In addition, the initiative will see 4,000 training places made available specifically for insulation installers, to encourage specialisation in fields that will help provide the capacity for Australians to make the switch to more sustainable living.

The government will also provide funds to create an estimated 6,000 new sustainability-focussed local jobs in priority areas.

Overall, the program demonstrates that, contrary what "scaremongering" climate change sceptics believe, the transition to a low carbon economy will not result in job losses, Rudd said.

"[Climate change sceptics] constantly fail to talk about the new clean energy jobs of the future, which will arise from the introduction of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, the renewable energy target and energy efficiency measures in the future," he said.

The announcement has been welcomed by a range of green groups, who have described Rudd's plan as a step in the right direction for Australia.

"We know that young Australians want to be part of the solution to the climate crisis," said Don Henry, Executive Direction of the non-profit Australian Conservation Foundation.

"These new initiatives will help provide them with the skills they will need to make a difference at work."

As well as training new recruits, though, it is important that the existing workforce isn't left behind, he said - suggesting that short "up-skill" courses for hundreds of thousands of Australian workers would be needed to ensure a smoother path to a new green economy.

Deputy leader of the Australian Greens, Christine Milne, was also supportive of the 50,000 green job initiative, but disputed Rudd's claim that the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, as it is, will assist the creation of those jobs in a greener economy.

"[He] seems to be trying to take a step into the future with this green jobs plan, and that is welcome but...[g]reen jobs need a real green economy to grow in; they cannot and will not thrive in a coal-black economy," she said.

"To deliver green jobs, the CRPS needs a 40 per cent emissions reduction target by 2020, and its revenue allocated to transforming the economy instead of sandbagging polluters."

As it is, Milne said, "the CPRS's appallingly low target and the billions of dollars it hands over to polluters will slam the door on green jobs, exporting most of those we do create."