In the past, I’ve discussed the role that our nation’s community colleges are playing in our economic recovery. In March, a report was published that examines how community colleges are primed to build a green workforce (PDF). The study highlights some of the sustainable measures taken at community college campuses. Along with the focus on sustainable design, enrollment in eco-friendly degree programs is up.
Community colleges have the ability to provide lower-cost training to more people than traditional four-year universities. In a time when under- and unemployment is rampant, securing funds for university tuition is difficult. Community college tuition is typically drastically reduced when compared to university tuition, and many areas are served almost exclusively by community colleges.
President Obama has a plan to help keep community colleges at the forefront of the green jobs movement, and ensure that the United States is the most educated country – the American Graduation Initiative. He announced his plans in a speech earlier this week in Michigan, a state that has been ravaged by the auto industry meltdown.
The initiative is expected to cost $12 billion, with the spending spread out over a 10-year period. There are several goals of this plan including an additional 5 million community college graduates by 2020, a competitive grant fund for community colleges, provide a pathway to completing a four-year degree upon graduation, renovate current facilities, and expand online educational opportunities.
While the American Graduation Initiative isn’t specific to green jobs training, the Obama administration’s focus on green jobs as part of the answer to the nation’s economic and environmental woes will ensure that this program keeps on eye on creating a sustainable future.