IREC at the table, serving up workforce education best practices and credentialing programs in 2009

For nearly a decade, IREC has taken a leadership role in shaping the direction of renewable energy workforce education, and developing quality and competency standards for solar and renewable energy professionals and training programs.   Whether authoring articles in national magazines, organizing a national workforce education conference, updating renewable energy training directories, or  accepting a record number of credentialing applications, renewable energy workforce development activities in 2009 will go down in IREC’s books as nothing short of robust.

Here’s IREC’s top workforce development picks for 2009:

1.  The third New Ideas in Educating a Workforce in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Conference on November 18-20, 2009 in Albany, New York, opened to a sold out crowd of more than 500 educators, trainers, instructors, educational centers, and industry experts training the green workforce.  Attendees, from more than 36 states and five countries, including a German delegation of vocational education experts, heard from national speakers as they discussed green market growth and the corresponding need for a strong and well-trained workforce.  More than 70 conference presentations addressed job forecasts and labor profiles, state and federal workforce initiatives, career pathways, training partnerships, model curriculum, standards, and new approaches to training in the rapidly growing green economy.  IREC organized this national event, the third conference since 2006.  You can see all the presentations from that conference.

2.  Credentialing – What’s in a name? A lot. – by Jane Weissman
Certification, certificate, accreditation, licensing–do you know the difference?   There is often confusion among these designations as they’re used interchangeably, frequently incorrectly.  IREC’s Jane Weissman explains and simplifies in this article in the September/October 2009 article in Solar Today.

3.  IREC Updates its University Directory & Renewable Energy Training Catalog
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.  Thanks to IREC’s Pat Fox, you can now find links to both the University Directory and the Training Catalog on IREC’s home page–just click on the maps.

4.  Workforce Development: A Survey Of Industry Needs and Training Approaches
In this paper for the 2009 ASES conference, IREC’s Jane Weissman and Jerry Ventre collected data on PV workforce needs from licensed contractors, PV practitioners, educators and expert instructors at training sessions, and at focus group and advisory committee meetings for the U.S. DOE and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).   Primarily from three states, respondents answered a 12-item questionnaire that addressed key workforce development issues from the perspectives of both the PV industry and training institutions.  For the PV industry, the IREC workforce development survey indicated that the greatest need is for well trained PV installers, followed by PV system designer and engineers, licensed contractors, building code officials and inspectors, and sales and site assessment personnel.


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