Report: Green-jobs program struggling to place workers

That more than half of the grants for the program are still active indicates performance figures will improve, Jane Oates, assistant secretary for Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, said in the letter.

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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, requested the audit. He likened the program to a handful of Energy Department-backed stimulus loans to now-bankrupt green-energy firms.

“The green jobs training program belongs in the long list of the Administration’s bad investments including the bankruptcies of Solyndra, Beacon Power, Abound, and just this month, A123,” Issa said in a Friday statement.

More than half of the 81,354 people that completed training in the stimulus program already had jobs, the report said.

In a sample of 81 enrollees who already had jobs, the investigators “found no evidence that they needed green job training” to reach program goals of obtaining full-time employment, career advancement or job retention.

In all, the program helped 30,857 workers find jobs for some period of time. That amounted to 38 percent of the program’s target of 81,254 jobs. But that figure also included those who were already employed and earned a new position because of the training.

Such numbers have helped turn Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign promise of adding five million green jobs into an attack vector for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Romney has criticized the president for banking on green energy, calling it an unwise intervention into energy markets.

Romney has said his administration would expand natural gas and oil drilling, while also curbing environmental rules considered harmful to the coal industry. He says increasing use of cheaper fossil fuel energy will help engender an economic recovery.

That has earned the rebuke of greens and Democrats, who call Romney’s energy platform a sop to oil-and-gas interests that ignores the effect burning fossil fuels has on climate change, the environment and public health.