Former Los Angeles gangsters seeking to reenter the workforce are trading in their gang colors for a new hue: Green. By training to become photovoltaic (PV) panel installers, these ex-gang members are joining the Green Economy and capitalizing on the influx of government funds for renewable energy projects intended to stimulate business and strengthen the green technology sector of the US economy.
Homeboy Industries, a LA-based nonprofit that helps former criminals find employment is collaborating with the East Los Angeles Skills Center (ELASC) to funnel ex-cons into courses that teach design, construction, and installation of PV panels. According to the relevant ELASC online course description, this 100 hour class introduces solar electrical theory, PV safety, basic load analysis, system sizing, and components and hardware among other lessons.
According to a Homeboy Industries press release entitled, “A New Gang Comes to Los Angeles: Solar-Panel Installers,” many course graduates are already working, earning about $15 an hour with hourly wage prospects up to $30 an hour for experienced installers. One of the companies employing reformed gang members to install PV is LA-based Phat Energy, which constructs PV as well as solar hot water, solar pool heating, and solar ventilation installations for residential and commercial customers.
ABC News has posted a nice report, “From Gangs to ‘Green Collar’,” on this initiative.