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Green Jobs Summit

On Wednesday, I attended the Green Jobs Summit hosted by the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee. The goal of the summit was to bring together a “diverse cross-section of businesses and organizational that are investing in clean energy and to make America the engine of innovation in the 21st Century.”  Why was CTE at this table?  To achieve the goals of energy independence and “green” our economy, it is clear that our nation needs a pipeline of new technical workers, as well as a means of retraining existing workers – and CTE can help!

The Senate Democrats came out in full force. Summit speakers included Vice President Biden, Senators Reid (NV), Stabenow (MI), Boxer, (CA), Brown (OH), Cantwell (WA), Dorgan (ND), Murray (WA), Sanders (VT), Merkley (OR), Udall (CO), and Klobuchar (MN).  And another 10 or so senators stopped in on the summit.  This was pretty amazing given that that day the Senate HELP committee was marking up the health care bill and The American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009 was passed out of committee that morning.

Several questions/comments, including one from an IBEW member in WA and someone representing adult education, raised the importance of investing in education and training programs to transform the current workforce to capably meet the needs of the ‘green economy.’   While there seemed to be universal agreement on this point (lots of head nodding), no significant attention was paid to the topic.  Senator Patty Murray did talk about career pathways in her remarks and Senator Brown highlighted work being done at Moraine Valley Community College.

While we are making progress on getting policymakers to understand that education is an important driver in the economy (we were invited to attend this event), it still seems to take a back seat to regulations and tax policies and incentives.

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