The green industry is projected to offer the hottest growing jobs in our nation, but a recent report warns that more needs to be explored in how workforce training programs, particularly apprenticeships, can quickly adapt to train workers for the field.
Last week, Workforce3 One hosted a webinar that addressed this question, focusing particularly on the role of apprenticeship in preparing the future workforce in today’s green climate. The Office of Apprenticeship’s recently issued report titled, The Greening of Registered Apprenticeship: An Environmental Scan of the Impact of Green Jobs on Registered Apprenticeship and Implications for Workforce Development. The report shares the current state of registered apprenticeship as it prepares workers for green careers. The webinar shared an overview of the findings and specifically addressed the concern of modifying apprenticeship to reflect evolving green technologies.
While green is making its mark on industry, education and training must also keep up. The webinar exemplified apprenticeship as the primary training vehicle to provide seamless transitions from school to work, although they expressed a need for stronger linkages between pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship is a vital link in the pathway from education and training to jobs with growth opportunities like those in the green industry.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Employment and Training Administration’s (ETA) Office of Apprenticeship (OA) met, during March and April of 2009, with 14 stakeholders representing critical industries to gather information. The critical industries most like to be impacted by green, according to the report, are:
- Building and construction
- Advanced manufacturing
- Building services
- Electrical utilities
They determined two common findings of green’s impact on industry:
- Green is cutting edge. As new processes are continuously developed, green will be at the forefront and industry must continue to adapt.
- Green demands growth in existing occupations, not the establishing of new occupations.
If apprenticeship is not part of the discussions on how to update training programs to reflect the advancement of thegreen industry, students who try to enter the green industry without any experience or credentials will likely find themselves unprepared, according to the report Any evolutions in industry must also be reflected in education. Apprenticeship is the ideal stage because it is it cultivates job specific training and places students in real-world situations.
In order to meet the challenges of today’s economy and embrace green as it leads the way in industry, strategic partnerships and collaboration are also necessary. National organizations and federal agencies, research and development hubs at universities, advocacy groups and community based organizations are all resources that must work together to provide a trained workforce for industries that are constantly evolving.