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Renewable Energy Technology
Community colleges are taking a
leadership role in educating and training a workforce
for the clean energy/green economy. Community
colleges with their connections to local and regional
labor markets and the flexibility to respond to emerging
industries and their changing skill needs - are the
perfect gateway to good green jobs, preparing workers
with the skills and competencies needed for green
industries, and ensuring that these industries do not
face a shortage of adequately trained workers.
As the move toward a low-carbon and
sustainable economy takes hold, the primary clean energy
sectors of efficiency, renewables, and alternative fuels
and transportation have emerged as offering the greatest
potential for job creation and growth, and perhaps, the
greatest workforce development opportunity on the
horizon for community colleges. Although it is
difficult to quantify, a report produced for the
American Solar Energy Society indicates that the
renewable energy and efficiency industries generated 8.5
million jobs in 2006. Optimistically, these
sectors may account for as many as one in four jobs,
direct and indirect, by 2030.
What are Green Jobs?
Green jobs, as broadly defined in report
commissioned by the United Nations Environment program,
contribute significantly to preserving environmental
quality and could include, but are not limited to:
- helping to protect ecosystems
- reducing energy, materials, and
water consumption through high-efficiency strategies;
- de-carbonizing the economy;
- minimizing or avoiding the
production of waste and pollution.
Green jobs in clean energy sectors span a
variety of skills, educational backgrounds, and
occupations. However, many jobs that are
currently, or predicted to be, in demand are
"middle-skilled" jobs that require more than a high
school diploma but less than a bachelor's degree.
It is important to note that although there will be a
growing number of new green occupations requiring new
knowledge, skills, and abilities, it is expected that
the majority will be transformed from existing jobs,
requiring a redefinition of skill sets, methods, and
occupational profiles. Green jobs include careers
in wind energy, solar energy, geothermal energy, energy
efficient construction and redesign, and alternative
fuels, such as biofuels.
Bioenergy technologies use renewable
plant and animal-based materials to create liquid fuel
(e.g., ethanol and biodiesel), solid fuel (e.g., wood,
plant pellets), and many other energy products.
Because biomass conversion works best when the fuel
source is located near a generator or refinery,
bioenergy creates direct and indirect jobs in rural
areas of the country, and may prove to be a profitable
complement for many existing agricultural and forestry
businesses. While the majority of biomass today
comes from the Midwest, crop production for fuel use is
likely to be more widely distributed in the future.
Bioenergy ranks second to hydropower in
renewable energy production and provides about three
percent of the primary energy production in the U.S.
Currently, the ethanol industry employs an estimated
238,000 people in all sectors, from farming to biofuels
plant construction and operation. Many biofuel
refinery jobs are similar to traditional chemical
manufacturing jobs. With the U.S. required
to use 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022, as
mandated by the Renewable Fuels Standards established in
the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the
potential for job creation will be considerable.
Source: Feldbaum & States. (2008).
Going Green: The Vital Role of Community Colleges in
Building a Sustainable Future and Green Workforce,
National council for Workforce Education and the Academy
for Educational Development.
interested in freeing the United States of foreign oil
dependency while improving environmental quality?
Are you a
Do you work well
with other people?
Do you prefer
jobs where you sit for long periods or where you move
around a lot?
interested in a career that has enormous growth