How Do You Grow A Green Workforce?
Last year, the New York Times reported that “Green-collar jobs have grabbed the public’s attention, and educational institutions are starting programs to train the managers who will oversee the technologies, manufacturing processes and materials that will be used to conserve energy and help safeguard natural resources.”
Furthermore, according to the Times, community colleges have been leading the way in developing these green training programs. As Roger Ebbage, director of energy programs at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon noted in the article, graduates of the energy programs are now working in a wide variety of sectors throughout the country, including utility companies, engineering jobs, in school districts, cities and the military.
Today there are a multitude of both degree and certificate training options available in a wide variety of green specialties – from wind technology and solar cell design to energy audits and weatherization. Here are just a few examples of the ways that community colleges are preparing for the growth in green jobs:
*Besides being environmentally friendly, renewable energy sources are necessary to offset rising fuel costs. At Red Rocks Community College in Arvada, Colorado, the Renewable Energy Technology program offers degrees and certificates in a number of specialties, including Solar Photovoltaic; Solar Thermal; Wind Energy Technology; and Energy Efficiency (Energy Audit) certification.
*Michigan’s Lansing Community College was among the nation’s first schools to incorporate alternative energy into its curricula, offering an Associate’s Degree in Alternative Energy Engineering Technologies. Students enrolled in this program study wind, solar, geothermal, energy efficiency, and bio-mass/gas energy production systems to develop an understanding of the challenges and opportunities in developing a renewable energy economy.
*Meanwhile, the New England Institute of Technology in Warwick, Rhode Island, has “greened” its existing curriculum, , expanding its Heating Technology curriculum to include Solar Technology; adding Gray Water Technology and Rain Water Harvesting to the course offerings in its Plumbing Technology Program; and rolling out classes in Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Hybrid Vehicles in its Automotive Technology program.
*The College of DuPage in Ellyn, Illinois, has not only added a Renewable Energy Certificate to its Electronics Technology (including the installation of of two windmills and four solar panels on the roof of the school’s Technical Education Center), but has made an existing green program even greener by stressing eco-friendly trends in its Sustainable Landscapes Certificate program.
*The Green Technician Certification Program at Houston Community College is specifically geared to two new and emerging occupations – Weatherization Technicians and Energy Auditors, while the Sustainable Energy Technician degree program at Clatsop Community College in Astoria, Oregon emphasizes the growing fields of energy conservation and renwable energy production.
*And, even health care can be green. The Green Healthcare Training Program at Rose State College in Midwest City, Oklahoma offers Certificate classes for health-care technicians in identifying environmental waste and understanding its impact, reducing the medical waste stream, reducing energy and water usage, as well as identifying and using available resources.