The department identified and defined five green sectors, one of which is “clean transportation and fuels.” More than 6,000 Michigan employers returned surveys. The study found Michigan has 109,000 “real” green private-sector jobs, Mr. Levin said. Of them, 97,000 are direct jobs, such as welders making components for a wind turbine, he said. Twelve thousand are “indirect” jobs, such as janitors, accountants, or general counsel staff whose jobs wouldn’t exist without the green-production work. Green jobs accounted for 3 percent of private-sector employment in Michigan, he said.
Employment in the green sector is growing fast. Between 2005 and 2008, overall employment in Michigan’s private sector shrank by 5.4 percent, Mr. Levin said. Green employment grew by 7.8 percent, adding 2,200 new jobs, 700 of them in companies that did not exist in 2005.
A recent study found that 90.6 percent of the state’s clean transportation and fuels jobs are in southeastern Michigan, with a small but growing workforce in the southwestern part of the state. What’s more, 55 percent of green jobs in southeast Michigan are in clean transportation and fuels. This high concentration “is something you will not find in any other region of the United States,” Mr. Levin said. “That is how important this sector is to our economy.”
To train workers, Michigan launched a $6 million green jobs initiative in 2008 to work with employers, identify sectors, and create Michigan “skills alliances” in particular areas where employers want to train their workers, Mr. Levin said. One example is the Michigan Emerging Market Skills Alliance. It works with small tool-and-die companies and suppliers that must diversify. “Typically, they are one-trick ponies that supplied one company,” he explained. “And now they clearly need to diversify, often into batteries, wind, solar, and things like that.”
Another such program is the Michigan Academy for Green Mobility. It trains engineers for vehicle electrification, Mr. Levin said. “This is typical of what we do,” he said. “If employers don’t know about these things and are interested, talk to me. We want you involved in this.”
Sometimes public-private training programs are launched at the initiative of one company, he said. Executives of Ricardo Engineering met at the governor’s office around fours ago, for example. “They said, ‘We are going to need hundreds and hundreds of engineers who know how to work on hybrid and electric vehicles, and we ain’t got them. Not just Ricardo. The auto industry,’” Mr. Levin recalled.
State officials convened representatives of GM, Ford, and Chrysler, as well as Japanese companies and university officials. “We all struggled together about whether this is right and what we will do,” Mr. Levin said. The state asked employers to identify precisely what kind of training was required. “We are talking about engineers who already have bachelors or master’s degrees, or maybe even a Ph. Ds,” he said. Whether they had lost their jobs or were still working, they needed new skills to work on electrification.
Wayne State University and Michigan Technological University won competitive bids to serve as lead universities to run training programs. Three