Community Colleges Focus On Green Jobs Training

By Staff
November 18, 2009

Training for green jobs, such as wind technicians and solar cell designers, is increasingly being offered at community colleges nationwide.

Fortune Magazine reports that community colleges seem to be embracing green professions quicker and more fully than other institutions, in part because the two-year schools are proficient at training students for practical professions. "They really understand the labor market and where there's demand," explained Mindy Feldbaum, author of "Going Green," a report on the role of community colleges in training for green jobs.

WKYC-TV in Ohio reports, for example, that Lorain County Community College recently launched Ohio's first associate degree program in wind turbine power generation. About five dozen students signed up for the program.

"The student who graduates will have a two-year degree," explained Duncan Estep, coordinator of LCCC's Alternative Energy Program, who was quoted by WKYC-TV. "It's stackable. They can go on to a four-year degree. They can go to work for a company that installs wind turbines right out of the chute."

Fortune notes that in recent months, major companies have formed partnerships with community colleges to encourage green training: IBM announced that it would provide course materials and hardware to Metropolitan Community College in Omaha in order to create a green data-center management degree. GE, meanwhile, donated a small wind turbine to Mesalands Community College in New Mexico and plans to hire graduates of the school's new wind energy technician program. And Johnson Controls in Wisconsin is building a 2,500 panel solar education farm at Milwaukee Area Technical College so students can be trained to become photovoltaic installers and designers.

"Johnson Controls' headquarters is nearby, and it's looking for thousands of people," explained Joseph Jacobsen, the school's associate dean of environmental studies, who was quoted in Fortune. "The baby boomers are retiring, and it's going to need new employees."

Similarly, Local Tech Wire reports that the North Carolina Community College System recently received $14 million in grants from Duke Energy to fund projects aimed at promoting careers in various fields. One project is Guilford Technical Community College's new Career Launch Pad, an educational lab that promotes careers in manufacturing, green technology, aerospace, health care, energy and life sciences.

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