As environmental awareness and the trend toward the adaptation of sustainability practices become common in corporate America, the academic world is placed in a unique position to make a significant contribution to this trend by providing education and training that responds to this trend.

Shaping America's Green Workforce: Community Colleges' Role

Katy Kozusko | Boots On The Roof

With their academic networks and partnerships with local and/or regional businesses, Community Colleges are in an excellent position to spearhead the workforce preparation for the emerging industries in the field of environmental awareness. Competency-based green training programs, integration of skills specific to the green industries helps communities ensure that they are able to supply the labor needed to fill emerging positions in the green industry.  

These green-specific jobs training and workforce preparation should be the result of multi-sectoral efforts among sectors in the industry that contribute to its mechanisms. Building, Construction, Engineering, Design, Renewable Energy Sources, Transportation and Agriculture are core sectors that require a steady supply of workers skilled in green technology and applications.  

Community Colleges and Their Role in a Sustainable Green Workforce  

Says the National Renewable Energy Lab, the biggest challenge in the emergency environmental field is not financial, legal or other technical aspects, but the short supply of competent workforce for the various green industries. Green jobs that are vital to the overall well-being of a community require a special set of skills and knowledge – academic competencies – to fill different roles.  

Most green jobs today require at least a high school diploma and some college. As in any new industries, the requirements for positions in the green industries will require a set of skills and educational qualifications that are derived from other disciplines and fields. Ultimately, these derivative skills and competencies must be customized to suit the needs of the industry. This requires Community Colleges and educational partners to engineer green education and training programs through a career path with an industry-wide accreditation and credentials. This means modification of existing green programs and integration of allied disciplines to provide the green industry with competency-based training programs for its workforce.  

Education and Preparation of the Green Workforce  

With the rapidly increasing demand for skilled labor to fill green collar jobs, Community Colleges across America are now beginning to offer training programs for green collar jobs, adapting educational programs and training choices from certificate programs, associate degrees, apprenticeships, technical education programs and service-learning protocols.  

The Santa Fe Community College Sustainable Technology in New Mexico offers several green jobs training programs alongside various non-credit courses. Plus, they also provide credit programs from certificates in green building systems, environmental technology training, solar energy training to an A.A.S. in environmental technology.  

The Red Rocks Community College offers an A.A.S. degree program that in renewable energy technology. Combining elements of existing carpentry and construction technology solutions and HVAC, the program integrates energy system design, audit and solar panel installation.

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