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Green Job Boom: 20 Million Students by 2025

By Sharon Chen
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Our climate challenge presents many climate opportunities – and these opportunities are nowhere more evident than in the booming green jobs sector. Some estimates place the need for green jobs at 20 million students by 2025.

Community colleges are gearing up to meet these new job demands. Maria Flynn, the director of Jobs for the Future, a nonprofit aimed at helping lower income students gain job skills and education, notes that 40% of community colleges have already introduced some level of green curricula. In order to further prepare students for the green jobs of the future, a new report from the National Wildlife Federation and Jobs of the Future urges community colleges to add a sustainability component to all disciplines. Providing opportunities for collaborative work with local governments and other schools is also an important way to prepare for green jobs. Leadership and communications training – especially as it relates to engaging communities in positive dialog about climate action – should also be emphasized in classrooms.

These tips apply to the rest of higher ed as well. A widespread incorporation of sustainability into curricula and practical, collaborative leadership training are important skills for our students to have. Green jobs are booming, and we need to prepare our students as best we can to meet the demand. 

Report Lays out Role of Community Colleges in Building 'Green' Workforce

Dian Schaffhauser | Campus Technology | January 11, 2016

Community colleges are positioning themselves to become the launch pad for a new wave of graduates pursuing "green" careers in fields as diverse as efficient transport, smart buildings, energy storage and climate-change habitat restoration projects. A new report from Jobs for the Future and the National Wildlife Federation offers recommendations for how those programs can be scaled to reach 20 million students with "sustainability knowledge" and skills by 2025. Jobs for the Future is a nonprofit focused on helping people with lower incomes gain skills and credentials for college and career success. The National Wildlife Federation is a conservation organization.

The new report is being circulated on the heels of COP21, an international sustainability forum in Paris, where representatives from 195 countries committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement signed there includes regular reviews in each country to monitor progress on climate plans.

According to "Greenprint: A Plan To Prepare Community College Students for Careers in the Clean Economy," the changes inherent in addressing climate challenges has ignited creation of a "clean economy," which requires a workforce with new or enhanced skills "to develop environmentally beneficial goods and services."

An outcome of this new economy is "economic mobility" for lower-skilled adults with the right training. That's where community colleges come in. Many of the "middle skill jobs" in the clean economy require more than a high school education, the report stated.

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