"Out of work? Need money? Have I got a deal for you!"
That's how many of the pitches go. They arrive unbidden to cell phones and email addresses belonging to eager unemployed or underemployed people all over the country. Often the message is the best thing about the offer, which is usually some pyramid scheme or related dog of a deal.
There is something better. A whole lot better.
Clean and alternative energy may sound a little been there done that, but the sector is looking up. Way up. Projections show steady increases, and market indications point to substantial adoptions of policies in the private and public sectors that increase efficiencies, promote sustainability and bolster alternative energy projects.
Here's a sample of some entry-level wages:
- Energy auditor - $42,000
- HVAC installer - $41,600
- Energy efficiency manager - $52,000
- Retrofit specialist - $50,000
- Construction project manager - $60,000
- Building controls technician - $50,000
Employment isn't up to snuff yet, and companies focusing on energy efficiency, solar and other aspects of sustainability are just getting started here in the San Joaquin Valley. But soon companies will need trained workers who can immediately help them make money and expand their operations. This video by California Community Colleges Economic & Workforce Development gives an example of what is out there.
The Central California Community Colleges Committed to Change, or C6, project has been established to meet the training needs of what is expected to be a robust sector in the San Joaquin Valley economy. It seeks to create accelerated educational training programs that produce qualified graduates for jobs in critical sectors that industry desperately wants to fill.
Members include Cerro Coso Community College, West Hills Community College District, Fresno City College, Madera Community College, Reedley College, Porterville Community College, Merced Community College, College of the Sequoias and Bakersfield Community College.
The colleges already have training programs in place that address much of the training needed. However, their intent is to make their programs better and increase job placement and retention of students.
Robert Pimentel, interim director of the C6 project, says the program has three components: agriculture, alternative energy and health care. He said the goal of the program is simple, create collaborative and common curriculum between member colleges and connect with industry so the programs propel graduates into the work force.
“We want to know where the jobs are,” he says. And “we want something meaningful for employers.”
C6 will attempt to align programs of participating colleges, mirror some of the curriculum with existing programs and compress training time lines. The goal is to cut the time it takes to get people through the programs while still providing them with accredited classes that can be used for further certifications and degrees.
Pimentel says while efforts have just begun to establish college-industry connections in alternative and clean energy, the C6 program has pulled off a successful effort with its health care component. “If it can be in health care, it can be done elsewhere,” he says.