Many American colleges and universities are welcoming the growing interest in clean energy and green jobs with programs that prepare students for work in the renewable-energy and energy-efficiency industry.
The nonprofit American Solar Energy Society says there are currently more than 9 million jobs related to renewable energy and energy efficiency, and it forecasts that 37 million such jobs will be in the United States by 2030. A big question is who will train such large numbers of people for green jobs? Community colleges are one answer, according to a report from the National Council for Workforce Education and the Academy for Education Development.
One such school is Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon, cited as a model of commitment to environmental stewardship and a leader in green work force training. Lane has about 38,000 students. 30 years ago it created an energy management program that until recently was the only program of its kind. It originally focused on energy efficiency then expanded to include renewable energy and water conservation.
Lane’s associate degree program has tripled in enrollment over the last years, and virtually all graduates are placed in related jobs. School officials have reported a huge increase in interest in green jobs. Lane Community College President Mary Spilde says that before, it was simply fashionable to be sustainable and green. But now, there’s something deeper related to the sustainability effort and how it contributes to economic, social and environmental justice.
Sustainability is something that students are pushing, Spilde says. The impulse comes from more and more students demanding that colleges lessen their carbon footprint and pay attention to these ideas.
Lane was one of the earliest colleges to sign the President’s Climate Commitment, pledging to be carbon neutral in the future.
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