GETTING READY FOR GREEN JOBS
New U.S. Institutes Help Tackle Cleantech Workforce Shortage; Training academies are cropping up to steer students and professionals into clean energy industries that lack manpower to match growing opportunities
Maria Galluci, May 17, 2011 (SolveClimate News)
"A surge in business for algae-biofuels developer Sapphire Energy has led to a new but welcome problem: The firm is needing to hire experienced workers but is finding slim pickings…[A] new post-graduate training program…[is readying to build a] workforce ahead of an anticipated boom… EDGE (Educating and Developing Workers for the Green Economy), a public-private partnership [will offer] industrial and technical certificate programs in biofuels and biotech production, analysis and processing…A Masters of Advanced Science will be offered next year through the University of California, San Diego…
"Overall, the number of industrial biotech companies in California have grown by 50 percent in the last five years, with nearly half of that growth between 2009 and 2010…Algae development alone has created 410 jobs around San Diego since 2007, resulting in $56 million in direct economic activity and $108 million in overall activity per year…Algae-related jobs could reach 500 this year and up to 700 next year as developers prepare to launch commercial-scale demonstration projects…"
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"In Colorado, that kind of rapid growth is already underway in the wind and solar industries, forcing developers to compete for the small pool of experienced electricians, technicians and engineers…To tackle the workforce shortage… the one-year-old Ecotech Institute near Denver… earlier this month unveiled a new $10 million flagship campus that will host up to 1,200 students…Some 250 students have been enrolled since last July in two-year associate's degree programs for wind and solar energy technology, electrical engineering technology, energy efficiency, environmental technology and general renewable energy training…Ecotech's parent company Education Corporation of America, which operates private higher education institutions, selected Colorado to host the campus because of its wealth of cleantech companies and top-notch institutions…Colorado's renewable portfolio standard (RPS), one of the most aggressive in the nation, was also a plus…"
"The number of cleantech companies in Colorado increased 9.6 percent between 2005 and 2010, compared with a 4.2 percent growth nationally…Some 1,600 cleantech companies directly employed about 19,420 people in the state in 2010, including more than a dozen new wind and solar firms that moved to the state last year…Colorado needs a highly skilled workforce to develop, manufacture and install renewable energy systems to keep cleantech companies in the state…[W]ithin the next few years the Ecotech Institute could expand to three or four sites nationwide…"
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"Whereas California and Colorado are readying employees for whole new professions, Nevada is looking to recruit new talent and update skills of mature works for its decades-old geothermal industry…This summer, the National Geothermal Academy will offer its first set of eight weeklong courses on geothermal energy development and utilization at the University of Nevada, Reno…A select group of 40 university students and professionals from across the globe will participate in "modules" on geothermal drilling and engineering, power plant design and construction, business development, permitting issues and other topics…The academy could also offer web-based instruction in the future…
"The Department of Energy has awarded nearly $1 million in grants to the multi-university consortium, which is the first comprehensive program of its kind in the nation. Globally, only two similar institutions exist in Iceland and New Zealand…In the U.S., seven western states plus Hawaii and Alaska have nearly 3,100 megawatts of installed geothermal capacity, about three-fourths of which comes from California…Geothermal power plants in Nevada — most of which are based in Reno — produce 300 megawatts…[and] state renewable standards in the region have driven the renewed interest in geothermal development…"