ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis stopped by Solar Power International Tuesday to discuss jobs, though the full impact of the government's policies to create jobs has yet to be felt.
In her keynote, Solis outlined the federal programs being administered by various departments, not just labor, that have been created by the stimulus package passed in February this year. She touched on her department's focus to provide job training money and opportunities.
Her appearance is fitting for an industry that is pegged as an engine for job growth. Solar, along with other types of renewable energy businesses, should be beneficiaries of billions of government spending to boost manufacturing and installations.
"We believe that to have a more prosperous future for our country's economy means making investments in clean energy today," Solis said at the largest solar industry gathering in the United States.
The labor department has announced funding availability for green job training in recent months. They include $500 million to federal, state and local job training programs; $114 million for help high school dropouts to get their degrees and get construction job training, a program with a green job component; and $7.5 million in grants for local governments and nonprofits to train about 3,000 military veterans.
Solis said her department is working with the U.S. Department of Energy on the $27 million effort to train solar installers.
There has been no shortage of announcements about how many jobs a particular program or grant recipient could create, from manufacturing renewable energy equipment and fuel-efficient cars to weatherizing homes.
But whether those jobs will truly materialize requires a wait-and-see tactic.
As Rhone Resch, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), pointed out in an interview, various federal agencies only launched their stimulus money-funded programs a few months ago.
"We are just beginning to see the job growth right now," said Resch, who expects to see a "meaningful impact" on the federally funded job training programs within a year.