In October 2012, over 100 college senior leaders and industry partners convened at Gateway Technical College (GTC) for the Building Sustainable Community College and Industry Partnerships Summit presented by The SEED Center and the Aspen Institute’s Skills for America’s Future (SAF) program.
By highlighting the value of industry-community college partnerships for students, community colleges, and businesses across a variety of green sectors, the summit allowed SAF and SEED to showcase the critical need for these demand-driven partnerships to define the right skill sets and prepare students for current and future workforce opportunities in the green economy.
The opening keynote from Wanda Reder Chair, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Smart Grid Task Force and vice-president Power Systems Services at S&C electric Company addressed how community colleges can meet the growing demands of renewable energies and how smart grid technology will influence these demands.
Participants discuss gaps in current industry-college partnerships, a vision for the future, steps and strategies to advance these programs and what technologies and trends are impacting skill development in the clean economy.
Industry partner Snap-on, Inc. hosted the summit dinner at their local headquarters. At the summit, SEED presented it’s inaugural Green Genome Awards to honor exemplary community colleges nationwide that have taken a strategic leadership role in sustainability and green economic and workforce development. The awards were sponsored by Snap-on and winning colleges each received a set of Bahco-brand Snap-on Tools.
Wisconsin-based Snap-on Inc. has been a strong supporter of community college/industry collaboration. “Snap-on continues to look for innovative workforce development initiatives, including those that ultimately contribute to the sustainability of communities. We are proud to partner with AACC’s SEED Center to sponsor these Green Genome Awards and to have played a role in developing the national framework behind it,” said Scott Broman, Global Business Development Director, Snap-On, Inc.
GTC was an ideal place to host such a summit—in recent years the college has worked in partnership with local industry to create programs that help the region’s displaced automotive engineers and technicians retool and reenter the workforce. Summit participants toured the college’s Center for Sustainable Living which serves as a community showcase in green building construction, remodeling, and geothermal exchange. Participants also visited GTC’s Horizon Center for Transportation Technology, which offers programs preparing students for a broad array of green-focused jobs—including maintenance and repair of tractor-trailers, earth-moving equipment, marine engines, and aviation.
At the summit, SEED released of a report entitled, The Community College Green Genome Framework: Integrating Sustainability and Clean Technology Workforce Development Into an Institution’s DNA. This tool for colleges details a new national Green Genome framework to help colleges align sustainability efforts to economic and workforce development, paths for success, and offers profiles of the winning colleges. The framework was developed by a national advisory panel made up of senior leaders at the US Department of Energy, industry, national associations, and over 50 community colleges plus extensive review of existing college programs.
The report also includes a self-assessment tool designed for colleges to quickly gauge, along a series of 47 green institutional competencies, how well they may be leading these initiatives today—and where to prioritize enhancements in the future.
*Photo Courtesy of Greg Lebrick, Gateway Technical College