A leading provider of custom alternative energy training programs, the agile California Community College system has become a first responder in developing a trained workforce that meets the needs of businesses competing in the global alternative energy sector.
This guest blog article was developed and written by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.
As California’s green economy continues to grow, so too must the workforce
That’s where California’s community colleges are taking the lead in producing certified workers and graduates to fill the needs of businesses clamoring to capitalize on the continuously evolving new economic sector.
“Over the last two or three years there has been a real focus on green tech and jobs by the Chancellor’s Office,” said Ray York, the dean of the Economic and Workforce Development (EWD) Division.
“There’s been this emerging demand for workers who are trained in solar, wind, alternative fuels, alternative transportation and biotech. And our community colleges are responding to market demands by being nimble and relevant enough to respond to needs, a rapid change in skill sets, and provide a customized workforce.”
A for-credit course can take years to plan and implement, York said, but an EWD program can sometimes take just weeks to design and roll out. A business owner can come to the Chancellor’s Office, make a request for trainees to have certain skill sets, and a specific certificate course of between six to 18 weeks can be in place in just a short time to help students reach their goals of having skilled, high-tech jobs with a secure future.
“The industries tell us what they want, we bring in the experts and develop a curriculum,” said Jose Anaya, the initiative director for the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies, which is part of the chancellor’s EWD program. “We have hundreds of partnerships. Companies such as Boeing, Alcoa, Boston Scientific, Advanced Bionics and Northrop Grumann all have partnerships with us and we, the community colleges, provide those companies with the trained workforce.”
But it’s not just Fortune 500 companies who benefit from the high-tech trained community college students building tomorrow’s solar photovoltaic panels or large wind turbines. Anaya said the smaller businesses that are typically subcontractors and have perhaps 10 to 15 employees also are clamoring for those students.
Most of California’s 112 community colleges offer green technology classes. Those courses may include photovoltaic panel installation and repair, green construction practices and biotechnology courses leading to careers in agriculture, medicine and environmental forensics. Biotech is a live science that focuses on the sub-cellular level – DNA, RNA and proteins – to produce better crops and to create quicker and more accurate environmental tests.
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