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Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009

Green-Job Training

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The time to green your resume is now.

The federal Green Jobs Act got a $500 million boost from the economic stimulus package and is expected to train 70,000 workers in renewable-energy and energy-efficiency jobs. Plus, a floundering economy is nudging companies to hire employees to design and implement energy-savings plans and other cost-saving measures.

Wisconsin Environment Director Dan Kohler is pleased with the strategy for building a greener workforce—particularly on the state and local levels. “The federal recovery plan includes significant funding to help states design educational programs to get workers moving ahead in the green economy,” he says.

In Wisconsin, universities, technical colleges and government and community workforce-development agencies will all play a role in the training effort. Gov. Jim Doyle’s global-warming task force has been helping these institutions team up with the private sector to develop a comprehensive training strategy that will address job seekers with a variety of different skill sets. Meanwhile, local colleges are rushing to design courses and curricula in a wide variety of green disciplines, from sustainable operations management to water technology.

Though a full graduate-level program is still in the works, UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences is offering courses in freshwater ecosystem health and a variety of other topics.

At Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), there’s a comprehensive selection of green career paths, including new programs in environmental and water technology, sustainable operations, and energy engineering. There are also numerous opportunities for people to add green credentials to their existing skill set at Lakeshore Technical College, Gateway Technical College and MATC.

Meanwhile, there’s talk of a green business management program for the UW System, details of which may be released this spring.

Joe Jacobsen at MATC says that Milwaukee is uniquely positioned to develop the green sector of its economy. “Milwaukee has lots of big institutions—hospitals, banks, universities—and a huge need for these jobs, whether it’s electricians or energy auditors,” he says. “The jobs that are part of this [MATC] program are 100% green-collar jobs, and they fit right into the systems the city already has in place.”