Community colleges and clean energy programs: thoughts from the national AACC conference
How do you close the skills gap between graduating students and employers? “It’s all about employers and educators working together; speaking and understanding the same language,” said Pat Fox, IREC’s director of credentialing development, “the need to communicate regularly and share information about what’s working and what’s not.”
Fox, along with IREC President/CEO Jane Weissman and Laure-Jeanne Davignon, IREC’s credentialing director, recently had the opportunity to share collective insight and learn from one-on-one conversations at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)’s Workforce Development Institute.
“Partnerships between industry and educational providers are more important than ever, as more clean energy jobs are available and education and training needs to match the job skills necessary to land and maintain those growing jobs,” says Davignon.
“With IREC’s unique work in developing clean energy standards and providing credentials for training organizations, this was a great opportunity to share our experience with more than 500 educators and administrators, including college presidents from across the U.S. and beyond (as far away as Saipan),” she adds. “And it was great to see the growing traction with this important constituency.”
“The most recurring theme we heard in our discussions is how critical the ongoing connection is between educators and industry. Even when they think they are teaching the skills needed for current clean energy jobs, educators often hear back from graduates and employers that the skill sets just don’t match,” said Fox.
Also during the Workforce Development Institute conference:
- Jane Weissman presented at a pre-conference workshop, “The Future of Clean Energy Technology Education.”
- IREC facilitated a roundtable about its clean energy credentials, discussing the outlook for solar and other clean energy jobs, and the role of credentialing in developing the clean energy workforce.
- As exhibitors and a conference sponsor, IREC leaders had individual opportunities to share the value of accreditation for clean energy programs and to learn about progress in the development of programs to prepare students for clean energy related jobs.
- IREC participated in a sustainability task force meeting.
“This is a community that understands the value and importance of credentials,” said Davignon. “And while not all colleges have clean energy programs, they take the concept of credentialing in our sector very seriously.”
IREC thanks Todd Cohen, Kathy Mannes and the rest of the AACC team for their warm welcome and for their efforts helping us connect with individual community colleges poised to hear more about credentialing.