Since 2004, when some 40 thought leaders from community colleges, training associations, non-profits and state organizations met to discuss standard-based curriculum for renewable energy practitioners and technicians, The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC) and The New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) have been providing a national platform for educating the renewable energy and energy efficiency workforce. In just seven short years, the conference has grown from a small gathering of 40 to some 500 clean energy educators and trainers.
By 2006, IREC organized and chaired the first national conference on renewable energy and energy efficiency workforce education at Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) in November in Troy, New York. Called ‘New Ideas in Educating a Workforce in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency,’ this was the first time educators and trainers came together to share best practices, curricula, and to formalize a national network. Some 200 instructors, school administrators, and industry representatives attended, representing 30 states and more than 65 community colleges and technical high schools. And there was an infectious enthusiasm to hold another.
So 18 months later, with NYSERDA’s support and IREC as organizer (and chair), the second clean energy workforce education conference was held in March 2008, again at HVCC. This time, 350 people from 33 states, 37 community colleges, 15 technical high schools, 19 four-year schools and others from the trades, state and federal agencies attended the conference. This time, the program focused on instructional strategies, curricula development, and related training and market trends.
The national clean energy education network emerges
The third New Ideas conference opened in November 2009 in Albany to a sold out crowd of more than 500 educators, trainers, instructors, educational centers, and industry experts training the green workforce. Attendees, from more than 36 states and five countries, including a German delegation of vocational education experts, heard from national speakers as they discussed green market growth and the corresponding need for a strong and well-trained workforce. More than 70 conference presentations addressed job forecasts and labor profiles, state and federal workforce initiatives, career pathways, training partnerships, model curriculum, standards, and new approaches to training in the rapidly growing green economy.
Keeping with the 18-month schedule, the fourth conference, now called the Clean Energy Workforce Education Conference, organized and chaired by IREC, funded by NYSERDA, was held in March 2011 in Saratoga Springs. It attracted more than 450 innovative educators training today’s green energy workforce gathered in Saratoga Springs, NY, who shared their remarkable work on instructional strategies, curricula development, credentialing, and best practices for training in the renewable energy and energy efficiency fields. The conference was preceded by a full day of technical workshops, from some of the industry’s most talented.
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