Building Effective Green Energy Programs in Community Colleges

This paper released in May 2010 by the Workforce Strategy Center summarizes findings from their staff investigating the skills needed for low-income, low- skilled people to obtain green energy jobs. 

Workforce Strategy Center
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Workforce Strategy Center
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This paper released in May 2010 by the Workforce Strategy Center summarizes findings from their staff investigating the skills needed for low-income, low- skilled people to obtain green energy jobs. Because of the relatively new green energy economy, the training being offered by community colleges for green jobs is still developing and dependent on market demand. This study addresses the challenges and some of the solutions for training for green energy jobs. There are example career ladders and how to develop career pathways to facilitate career advancement is discussed. Programs from nine community colleges were examined and compared. Numerous case studies are presented.

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What the experts say

This resource does a good job of letting program developers around the country know where we stand in efforts to provide training for “green” jobs that may or may not match predictions. The paper addresses the impact of the recession on green job growth which has been slowed compared with predictions. The approaches taken by the institutions in the case studies are sensible, ground in sound practice for other sorts of workforce education, and can provide models and guidance for others who are called upon to venture into this very new area. Community colleges have had to rethink how to move from short term training programs to longer term career pathways programs to serve low skilled and unemployed people. Stepping stones to further education and apprenticeships along with new certifications for existing workers is a key point.

The report is clearly written and the identification of key issues is useful and well-done. The organization makes it possible to see how programs can vary while still incorporating key principles of effective workforce education. Adult education programs can learn from the case studies in the report what it takes to qualify for these training programs and consider ways to partner with community colleges to prepare students for transitioning to these programs.

A major weakness is that the report is unclear about what the sources of information are for supporting the conclusions (i.e., how many site visits to which institutions? how many interviews with whom? how much reliance on documents and web-sites of the colleges?). Expansion to include more on the degree to which conclusions are based on evidence and a clearer link to specific conclusions would provide more credibility as case-study research. The trade-off is timeliness versus credibility. People are looking for this information now. If expansion were to take months, it would lose worth.

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