In 2001, when IREC entered the renewable energy workforce arena, it was a group small enough to fit around a coffee table. According to IREC’s Jane Weissman, it was uncharted territory with no standards or procedures in place to accredit institutions or certify instructors and practitioners. A few outposts of renewable energy education existed at places like Lane Community College (OR), Solar Energy International (CO), and the Florida Solar Energy Center (FL). Not coincidentally, the few instructors in the field were at these organizations. And while the term ‘green’ was associated with environmental initiatives, that association didn’t extend to the general workforce.
That was then.
Today, the term, ‘greening the workforce,’ is vernacular; it is securely ensconced in the Obama Administration with Van Jones, one of the foremost champions of green business, as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. While this appointment signals commitment from the Administration, ‘how do we’, as Weissman posits, ‘ensure that green is not just a color but a practice?’ One piece of the answer to this question is to ensure that our workforce can easily find information about courses being offered and the jobs that are being created. As stimulus dollars are available for retraining today’s workforce with green curriculae, it is critically important to provide access to information about what courses are being offered, what technology is covered, where it is offered, and who is offering it.
Several years ago, IREC developed an on-line training catalog to make it easier for you to find renewable energy educational providers in your state. And as four-year Universities began offering renewable energy courses, IREC added the University Directory specific to these offerings.You can find links to both the University Directory and the Training Catalog on IREC’s home page; just click on the maps.
Pat Fox, IREC’s newest team member focused on workforce development issues, has been working on updating the information on this section of our website and expanding the features available within the Training Catalog and the University Directory.
“Just last week,” said Fox, “we released the new and improved University Directory. This Directory, which includes information on four-year universities offering undergraduate and graduate courses in renewable energy and energy efficiency, now includes a Google map to help locate a University near you. It offers expanded search capabilities, and the participating Universities have direct access to be able to keep their listings up-to-date and accurate.”
The University Directory currently includes listings from 24 Universities.
“We expect the number of listings to continue to increase as more renewable energy programs are developed and as the awareness of this newly launched directory is expanded,” said Fox.
When you find courses of interest, Fox urges you to check with the educational provider for additional information on the courses listed, including application process, prerequisites, fees, etc.
“Our next initiative is to improve the features available with the Training Catalog. As with the University Directory, the Training Catalog incorporates a Google map. Clicking on the marker will give you details about the program offered in a certain location. Within the next few weeks we will be expanding the search capabilities to include ‘State’, ‘onsite vs. online’ and ‘technology’; we’ll be streamlining the display; and we’ll be providing direct access to the listed training organizations to keep their information up-to-date and current.”
Each of the listings is exactly that–it’s only a listing – similar to the Yellow Pages. Inclusion in these listings does not imply approval of the courses or providers listed. IREC recommends that you carefully check course content, references from other students, and that the training is taught by a legal entity in an environment with appropriate facilities, tools, and safe practices.
According to Fox, IREC is also actively updating several other features and information on IREC’s Workforce Development page.
“We added links to resources related to the credentialing of renewable energy and energy efficiency professionals, general workforce development resources, and job boards focused on green collar jobs,” said Fox. “As the green workforce develops, people who have gone through quality training need to be matched with jobs in order to leverage their education. It seemed like a natural extension to include links to green job boards on our website.”
If you wish to submit a new link or request the removal of an existing one, or view IREC’s link policy, please click here.
You can contact Pat Fox by email for more information about IREC’s Renewable Energy Training Catalog or University Directory.