Posts Tagged ‘green economy’

How Do You Grow A Green Workforce?

Friday, March 25th, 2011

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.

Growing Green Jobs

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Last week’s State of the Union address was all about jobs, and one promising avenue for job growth the President highlighted is the new green economy.

In his speech, Obama framed the need to invest in those types of jobs in terms of keeping pace with international competitors like China, Germany and India. “These nations aren’t playing for second place. They’re putting more emphasis on math and science. They’re rebuilding their infrastructure. They’re making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs.”

Indeed, according to a New York Times report, China is now the world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines and is making gains in other green fields as well.

If America wants to keep up, ATE programs at community colleges will be vital to training new green workers and retraining older workers for new green jobs. Perhaps that’s why President Obama repeated his call for more funding for community colleges in his speech last week, calling them “a career pathway for the children of many working families.”

There are two sides to greening the economy: investing in new renewable energy projects or cleaner transportation infrastructure like high-speed rail; and improving energy efficiency in order to better conserve heat and electricity. We saw an example of each of these types of green jobs in this week’s episode. At Laramie County Community College in Wyoming, students are learning how to operate and maintain the wind turbines that are popping up across the West.

Meanwhile, at Sinclair Community College, students are working with local affordable housing groups to conduct green energy audits and weatherize homes. And both of these types of jobs need to be done here, in America; they can’t be sent overseas.

The hope is that last year’s unprecedented federal investment in basic scientific research will seed a new green manufacturing sector, building advanced batteries and solar cells. That will mean new green jobs for laid-off manufacturing workers, but first they’ll be need to be retrained. And ATE programs at community colleges across the country will be on the front lines of that training.

Click here to read about some of the green job titles expected to see the biggest growth in the coming years.

The Coming Green Economy: A Q&A with ATE Conference Keynote Speaker Debra Rowe

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

One of the highlights of the recent ATE Conference was keynote speaker Debra Rowe’s presentation Education for a Green and Sustainable Future. Professor Rowe did a great job explaining the new jobs the green economy is going to create, why we need them, and how ATE programs can adapt to meet the coming demand.


Photo Credit:  MCPA

For 29 years, Professor Rowe has taught energy management and renewable energy at Oakland Community College.  She is also the president of U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development, which coordinates sustainability initiatives among business, education and government.  Among many other projects, the partnership helps educators communicate their work in green tech to the general public. Read her full bio.

We asked Dr. Rowe to elaborate on some of the ideas in her speech.

ATETV: What changes in the green tech industry during the last 5-10 years are the most exciting for you? What additional ones do you feel are on the horizon?

Debra Rowe: The recognition that there are business opportunities that will simultaneously create healthier ecosystems and economies; the awareness that our economy is presently modified to support fossil fuel use — it is so easy to hook up to a dirty coal fired power plant, but if you want solar on your house, you have to pay the whole price up front. New policies can fix that, thereby increasing clean and domestic renewable energies that will create new jobs, less pollution, and more health as well.

ATETV: How do students from Oakland Community College, and other colleges benefit from the new “green economy?”

DR: We can infuse this green and sustainability understanding into all of our degrees and certificates, and engage students in solutions that will both benefit them personally and benefit society as well.

ATETV: How has this economy changed existing career options?

DR: There are over 100 new green job classifications, and many existing careers need an infusion of green and sustainability knowledge and actions. It has expanded career options and requirements to know green and sustainability principles for many jobs.

ATETV: Why is the demand for technical graduates so high with degrees in green tech?

DR: It is high in some areas and not in other areas, but it will continue to grow. It is high because we are finally getting rid of misinformation and bad local, state and federal policies that were in the way of a green economy.

ATETV: One of the most notable references from your speech was the term “arm chair pontificator” and your call to “educate to action.” For ATETV followers that were not able to hear you in DC, what does this mean?

DR: In higher ed, we have been emphasizing critical thinking. This can produce graduates who can analyze a situation but don’t have the skills and attitudes to go into the real world and make effective change. I call these people armchair pontificators, because they go on and on about what is wrong with the world but then don’t take action. We need to teach and give students chances to practice how to be effective change agents.

ATETV: What is your related advice for them?

DR: Change the curricula to work on real-world problem solving for sustainability, teach all students about our sustainability challenges, and give them multiple opportunities to learn change-agent skills and engage in solutions by incorporating this into courses in all disciplines. Many colleges are already moving in this direction.

For more information on the new categories of green jobs, check out this PowerPoint presentation by Carolyn Teich of the American Association of Community Colleges.