President Joe Biden and California Gov. Gavin Newsom are investing significant federal and state dollars in new technologies. – In search of clean air, clean energy, healthy living and green jobs for our community.
Job discussions are often made from the historical perspective of competitive interest – Economic Stability vs. Good Environmental Practice, Corporate Profit vs. Healthy Community.
But I believe that with a green economy, we have the opportunity to show that these competitions are based on false divisions.
Corn County, in the Central Valley of California, is building a prosperous future with environmentally friendly practices; And the Corn Community College District (Corn CCD) has become a perfect partner for business, industry, and county government to create massive green jobs that are important steps toward establishing good jobs, a strong, local economy.
A few years ago, Kern CCD began developing an “educational ecosystem” to help create a new green energy economy. These included issues such as carbon capture and sequestration, microgrids and the construction of a clean transport infrastructure.
This energy is needed for the educational ecosystem so that we can engage with emerging research on clean technology and decarbonization and create a flexible curriculum to keep pace with that research and consequently new technology. This requires connecting our colleges with unemployed and under-represented staff; Work with employers to create better jobs and paths for them; And educating the community about the impact of new technologies.
The approach redefines the role of community colleges and helps accelerate the deployment of new technologies. It can be replicated in California and beyond.
Related: Why climate change has forced me to rethink my career plans
For more than 100 years, the Central Valley economy has been a major economic engine for the state and the nation, built primarily on agriculture, providing mainly migrant workers and their families with more than half of the country’s agricultural output. It is one of the largest oil producing regions in the United States
Yet the Central Valley lives in the shadow of the metropolitan Jugaranuts: Silicon Valley in the north and greater Los Angeles in the south. The enormous wealth generated by our oil and agricultural economy has not resulted in rich Central Valley communities, which are plagued by complex socio-economic problems. Broadly speaking, the region is characterized by low-income and long-term unemployment rates above the national average and education rates far below the national average.
Community college can be a real answer for a good job with “community” equity.
Educationally, many Central Valley families send their children to college under the California State System or the world-class University of California (UC) system; Children from low-income families are less likely to attend college, and if they do, are more likely to attend community college, which is almost always cheaper than a four-year university, closer to home and more strongly connected to the community around them. .
But I have found that opportunities are often hidden in adversity. And here in the Central Valley, the hidden opportunity is provided by the close and connected nature of our community and our history of creating joint ventures that can lead to the development of a prosperous economy.
Last month, that opportunity became a reality. The Kern communities have been awarded two Department of Energy Local Energy Action Plans (LEAP) grants designed to support locally created pathways for clean energy.
In the coming months we will use that support to upgrade our community college curriculum, especially for microgrid technology and carbon capture and sequestration.
Related: Student Voice: Women need better opportunities in the construction industry
Central Valley is perfect for launching this kind of green job transformation: the San Joaquin Valley has 22 huge oil fields, each producing 100 million barrels of oil. Deep-seated oil fields and related geological formations can be reused to act as storage units for carbon recovered from factories, power plants and directly from the atmosphere.
Our community colleges are already coordinating with companies to lead the development of green economics curricula that will require a variety of skilled workers. Many of our students – Our future green energy technology workers – Come from our low income community. The green economy skills that we provide them will lead them to earn more and have greater life opportunities. The Federally funded Research and Development National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), sponsored by the Department of Energy, will directly assist in the further development of educational resources and the recruitment of these under-represented staff.
Opportunities are often hidden in adversity.
And our close communities support connections between companies, unions, schools and municipalities that allow us all to work together, with a vision and commitment to greater equity.
The center of this successful (and growing) integration is our Community College. They have become an incubator for marginalized and low-income individuals and families, providing an opportunity to transcend livelihood and stay in a good job with the benefits of a quality life.
We are fully confident that collaboration among all stakeholders will improve our most vulnerable communities. – Inside and outside of California.
The real story of this development is that community colleges can be a real answer to a good job with “community” equity. – And the development of future workforce.
Chancellor of Sonia Christian Corn Community College District California.
Produced by this piece about green jobs and community colleges Hatchinger report, A non-profit, independent news organization focusing on inequality and innovation in education. For registration Hatchinger’s newsletter.