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New York, NY July 29, 2013
Study finds that skills-focused vocational workforce training provides employment opportunities for the unemployed and higher wages for those currently working.
As conventional energy sources become more costly in both economic and environmental terms, the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries are accelerating. Likewise, the rising costs of a traditional college education and lack of job opportunities are making vocational education more appealing for those looking to enter the workforce.
With a goal of developing a robust clean energy workforce, grant programs from various federal and state agencies enlisted the help of CleanEdison, which specializes in job-specific middle skills and industry certification training, to educate unemployed, under-employed and incumbent workers.
The findings revealed that the public-private education partnerships have had positive outcomes, especially on the segments of the workforce most in need. 51% of those who entered as either unemployed or underemployed gained a new job as a result of the training. Just as impressive, more than 80% of those who gained a new job were still employed after 6 months.
For incumbent workers who were already employed at the start of training, 48% received an increase in wage, salary, or title as a result of the training. These impacts were not small; the average hourly wage increased by $ 2.10 and hours per week increased by 10 hours. This equates to about $ 15,000 of additional income a year for those who were already in full-time jobs. With an average cost of $ 2,000 for a one-week course, the return on investment for these vocational education programs is 750% in the first year, far exceeding that of traditional institutions.
Avi Yashchin, CEO, has an idea to why energy efficiency and solar training courses have been successful: The best part about these programs is the vast majority of the skills a contractor needs to enter the renewable energy or energy efficiency business, he already possesses. America has the highest-skilled workforce in the world; we just need to find a way to put those skills to use. Obamas Community College to Career initiative is built on the same idea if partnerships can be built to combine the resources of community colleges with skill-focused vocational training, we begin to tackle our biggest issues in a truly effective way.
College graduates are facing the opposite trend. Data derived from an analysis of the Census Bureaus Current Population Survey indicates that 53% of recent college grads are either jobless or underemployed. Many of the jobs new grads are taking dont require a bachelors degree and dont relate to their field of study. According to data collected by Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, recent graduates are more likely to work as waiters and bartenders than as engineers, physicists, chemists, and mathematicians combined.
With the average college student roughly $ 35,000 in debt, both educators and students are seeking viable alternatives to the current situation. Vocational training provides students with the hands-on experience and knowledge to gain a national certification, and perform a specific job. It requires no major application process, training ranges from one week to a few months, costs a fraction of a 4-year degree, and now has been shown to result in better employment opportunities.