The movement to green the American economy is gaining momentum. At the federal level, as well as in individual states, lawmakers have passed legislation designed to reduce carbon emissions while creating green jobs in diverse industries such as transportation, construction, environmental management and agriculture. These have all shown growth in recent years and are predicted to continue to do so.
This article originally appeared on www.the74million.org written by Rachel Rosen.The movement to green the American economy is gaining momentum. At the federal level, as well as in individual states, lawmakers have passed legislation designed to reduce carbon emissions while creating green jobs in diverse industries such as transportation, construction, environmental management and agriculture. These have all shown growth in recent years and are predicted to continue to do so.
This green revolution will require an army of well-trained workers — yet federal investments in job training have focused mostly on adults. To build a healthy pipeline of skilled labor, policymakers should apply lessons from a robust body of evidence about successful career and technical education programs for high school students to create pathways for careers in the green economy.
More than 12 million high school students are enrolled in CTE; high-quality CTE programs have been shown to boost high school graduation, college enrollment and earnings. With curricula organized around specific career themes, they offer internships and other work-based learning experiences, and provide opportunities to earn industry-recognized credentials and college credits while still in high school. CTE programs also appear to work particularly well for students who have lagged in educational attainment, including young men and students with disabilities.
CTE programs have been successful across fields of study, suggesting that similar models focused on green jobs and careers may have similar effects. In fact, promising green CTE programs are cropping up all over the country.
As innovative as these programs are, however, they tend to be one-off efforts. To prepare students for the future green economy, a more coordinated effort will be necessary to align labor market needs with CTE programs nationwide.
The Aspen Institute’s recent K-12 Climate Action Plan recommends developing new CTE opportunities that prepare students for jobs in the clean energy economy and creating curricula that supports knowledge of environmental sustainability across all career pathways. This could be done in a coordinated way by leveraging funds through the federal Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which provides states with more than $1 billion annually to support CTE education. For example, electricians and HVAC technicians now need to understand new technology used for renewably powered homes and buildings. Other fields that are staples of current CTE programming are being transformed by efforts to address climate change, including buildings and architecture, transportation and logistics, and agriculture and natural resources.
Other funding streams should be developed to support green CTE, such as money to purchase training equipment like solar panels, wind turbine parts and greenhouses. Funding for research to understand how schools and districts can best align their educational offerings with rapidly accelerating changes in the labor market should also be a policy priority.
Developing a talent pipeline of students ready to enter the workforce as the clean energy transition accelerates would ensure a robust, skilled pool of workers prepared to meet the challenge of reducing carbon emissions at the scale and speed that science demands. Doing so would be a win for students, employers and the environment.