By: Jennifer Bissell
October 10, 2013
With a boom in clean energy jobs on the horizon, business leaders are already grooming high school students to lead the way.
Roughly 260 technical high school students are now enrolled in the CT Clean Trade Program to learn more about clean energy and sustainable practices within the trades they are studying.
The two-year program is a partnership between the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA), the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, and Energize Connecticut, in association with Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating.
Students at a kickoff event at Abbott Technical High School in Danbury. Photo courtesy of CBIA.
“There is a growing demand for skilled workers in clean energy,” said Judy Resnick, executive director of CBIA’s Education Foundation. “Our mission is to make sure Connecticut is a great place to do business and one thing businesses cannot do without is a skilled workforce.”
Within the five technical schools participating, students will receive a hands-on introduction to careers in the energy industry, Resnick said. Students studying trades like plumbing, heating, ventilation, carpentry and electrical work will be included in the program.
Within the first year, students will learn about sustainable energy practices and then assess their schools’ energy use. At the end of the year, the students will give presentations to the schools’ administrations on how to reduce energy costs and consumption.
CBIA representatives plan to help the students make their energy pitches and presentations, while various energy companies like CL&P, UI and Siemens Building Technologies will help within the classroom.
Technical schools in Danbury, Milford, New Britain and Norwich are among the first class of schools to participate in the program, which is funded by a state Energy Efficiency Fund grant.
In the second year of the program, the students will bring their energy-saving solutions into the larger community to facilitate additional energy reduction projects.
“This is very much on the radar of both UI and Northeast Utilities,” Resnick said. “They know there is a need for skilled workers and that their vendors need skilled people. It’s a nice marriage when everyone needs the same thing.”
After a kickoff event in Danbury, Resnick said she felt students were excited to start the program. In exercises where students saw examples of recycled products and were asked to measure the light quality in various rooms, Resnick said the students had a lot of questions and were already thinking of ways to teach others the same lessons.
“We’re building a pipeline of interest, making sure students have the appropriate skill sets,” she said. In light of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s comprehensive energy plan, which calls for large investments in natural gas and less reliance on oil and coal, Resnick said it was important to prepare the state’s workforce in order to meet its future goals. The program will include some job shadowing and Siemens has expressed interest in hiring students after they’ve graduated.
Resnick said she hopes the “green” angle will eventually be embedded into the schools’ curricula, long after the funding runs out and the program is retired.
“Our hope is that students will want to continue their learning,” Resnick said. Full article