by Chris de Morsella, Green Economy Post Chris is the co-editor of The Green Executive Recruiter Directory. Follow Chris on Twitter @greeneconpost

California’s clean transportation sector is growing and is creating thousands of new green jobs in the state; from the thousands of new jobs that are being created in the high speed passenger rail network now being built to the jobs that are opening up in the electric car manufacturing and related industries and manufacturing that has clustered in California; to the continued growth in job opportunities in mass transit.

The California High Speed Passenger Rail System

California’s drive to build a modern high speed passenger rail system is the largest public infrastructure project in the nation. California’s electrically-powered — with a goal of 100% renewable electric power — high-speed trains will help the state meet ever-growing demands on its currently congested transportation infrastructure. The new passenger rail network will initially run from San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim via the Central Valley, and later will also link to Sacramento and San Diego as well. These new high-speed trains will travel between LA and San Francisco in under 2 hours and 40 minutes, at speeds of up to 220 mph. The system is being built so that it interconnects with other transportation alternatives, providing an environmentally friendly option to traveling by plane or car. The high speed trains will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of travel between California’s two major metro areas, with the state’s other two big metro areas being linked at a later date.

This massive public infrastructure development project will create around 100,000 construction-related jobs each year that the system is being built. Work on California’s proposed $43 billion high-speed rail system should start on time next year in 2012, beginning with construction for the rail line segments in the Central Valley, despite some controversy and allegations that the project is being poorly managed. The proposed rail system between Anaheim and San Francisco has been in the works for 16 years.

Overview of the Permanent Jobs to be Created by California’s High Speed Passenger Rail System

The new system is going to require around 1,500 people in train Maintenance & Overhaul having a mix of skills many of which are similar to aircraft mechanics, systems and electrical engineers and technicians. Most of these positions will require a 4-year technical degrees plus specialized training and with various high-tech skills being important. In addition the new high speed passenger rail system will need Basic body and paint shop work, upholstery and fabric people as well to maintain and overhaul the fleet.

The projections are that 880 driver, conductors and on-board attendants will be required for the new high speed rail system currently being built requiring a skill set similar to today’s railroad personnel; tough training is expected to be more rigorous, similar to airline personnel. For some of the positions in this category high-tech skills will be important.important. Around 1,100 positions will be opened up in the areas of ticketing, security, service and administration as well.

The new system will require somewhere around 440 specialized employees for track, ballast, signaling/telecommunications, structural maintenance. Most of these new jobs will require various kinds of specialized training including: training similar to utility lines people, cable installers, IT people, and road maintenance crews. Various high-tech skills will be important for about half of the positions. In addition around 100 people are going to be needed in operations control and power management positions that will need specialized training in railroad dispatching similar to air traffic control as well as utility load management type positions. High-tech skills will be important for these positions.

California’s Growing Electric Car Manufacturing Sector

California has become the global hot spot for production of electric cars and it boasts two major players as well as several other startups competing to build the all electric cars for tomorrow. California’s electric car companies have been able to raise capital even in the current bearish market, a sign of the faith that investors have in this rising clean transportation sector. Investors are voting with their wallets and electric cars have gotten a very big thumbs up.

California’s electric car companies include:

  • Tesla Motors famous for its high end all electric sports car went public last year and has just recently successfully placed about $211m worth of stock in a follow-on share offering. Tesla has a current market cap of almost $3 billion. It plans to begin production of its mid market sports sedan the Model S in late 2011 in a state-of-the-art assembly plant in Fremont, California. The new facility built in an old GM plant will employ about 1,000 workers.
  • Fisker Automotive, which will launch a battery-powered sports car next month, and has raised $115m from private investors, bringing the total equity it has raised so far to more than $600m.
  • Phoenix Motorcars, based in Ontario, California is a startup focused on producing green electric trucks for the commercial and government fleet market.
  • ZAP Jonway is a newly formed US-China automaker headquartered in Santa Rosa, California. It plans to begin production of its Alias electric commuter car in September of 2011.
  • Aptera Motors, a startup located in Carlsbad California, formerly known as Accelerated Composites, is a maker of high-efficiency electric commuter vehicles.

Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors has received approval for about $465 million in low-interest loans from the US Department of Energy to accelerate the production of affordable, fuel-efficient electric vehicles. The company will use $365 million for production engineering and assembly of the Model S, an all-electric family sedan that carries seven people and travels up to 300 miles per charge. Tesla will use $100 million for a powertrain manufacturing plant. The facility will supply all-electric powertrain solutions to other automakers, greatly accelerating the availability of mass-market EVs. The new facility will employ about 650 people.Tesla expects to start Model S production in late 2011 in a state-of-the-art assembly plant employing about 1,000 workers. Tesla will use $100 million for a powertrain manufacturing plant. The facility will supply all-electric powertrain solutions to other automakers, greatly accelerating the availability of mass-market EVs. The new facility will employ about 650 people. In addition to manufacturing jobs that will be created, many new employees will be needed in service and sales.

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