Career exploration tool helps job seekers, employment counselors

By Lesia Winiarskyj

According to a report released in October 2012 by the Economic Policy Institute, renewable energy and other green industries are growing faster than the rest of the economy. And jobs in those fields are available to workers across a broad educational spectrum.

But exactly what: and where: are those jobs?

An Emerging Industry

"As with any emerging industry," says Judy Resnick, executive director of CBIA's Education Foundation, "there are questions about the kinds of opportunities that exist. What types of training and credentials lead to employment and advancement in green energy? What is the earning potential? What are the opportunities for professional growth?"

In collaboration with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), CBIA's Education Foundation has been working to answer those questions.

With funding from a U.S. Department of Labor State Energy Sector Partnership Grant awarded to the Connecticut Department of Labor, CBIA and CAEL have identified over 100 green energy occupations in Connecticut: and the foundational and transitional skills, education, industry credentials, and experience needed to access those jobs.

The result is a comprehensive career exploration tool organized into four sectors:

  • Career Pathways to Connecticut's Alternative Energy Jobs
  • Career Pathways to Connecticut's Renewable Energy Jobs
  • Career Pathways to Connecticut's Residential Energy Efficiency Jobs
  • Career Pathways to Connecticut's Commercial Energy Efficiency Jobs

A Clear Roadmap

In each sector, occupations are organized into three types: trades and technical, audit and assessment, and sales. Within these categories, occupations are further classified by the level of education, experience, and, where applicable, industry certification required.

"This format gives job seekers a clear roadmap," says Resnick. "It illustrates potential career progression within various job types, and it shows how skills can transfer from one sector to another." This is important in emerging industries such as green energy, she says, because new fields: and the specific occupations and credentials that are most in demand: are developing and evolving.

New Strategy, New Jobs

In February, Gov. Malloy unveiled the state's Comprehensive Energy Strategy, a plan that promises to spur even greater growth in the green energy economy.

Among other things, the plan expands Connecticut's commitment to energy efficiency through programs reaching all sectors and all buildings: government, municipalities, universities, colleges, schools, hospitals, places of worship, commercial and industrial facilities, and residences: with a special focus on small businesses and low-income communities. It also goes beyond a traditional focus on upgraded lighting and weather stripping to deliver deeper efficiency gains in heating, air conditioning, ventilation, insulation, windows, furnaces, boilers, and appliances, as well as process efficiencies in manufacturing.

Innovative financing mechanisms through the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (Connecticut's Green Bank), together with standardized energy efficiency performance contracts and zero- and low-emissions renewable energy credits, are also expected to induce private-sector investment in the industry and help businesses with long-term planning. In addition, Connecticut's Renewable Portfolio Standard, which calls for a significant increase in the use of Class I renewables by 2020, will expand the need for renewable/alternative energy solutions. (Class I renewables include solar power, wind power, fuel cells, and other energy sources).

"All of these changes translate into expanding workforce demands in the energy sector," says Resnick. "Career Pathways in Green Energy Industries helps Connecticut jobseekers better understand the new energy landscape and their potential place in it."

Lesia Winiarskyj is a writer and editor at CBIA. She can be reached at lesia.winiarskyj@cbia.com.

Green Energy Industries is a project of the Connecticut Energy Workforce Development Consortium, made possible with support and funding from the Workforce Solutions Collaborative of Metro Hartford and the U.S. Department of Labor's State Energy Sector Partnership Grant awarded to the Connecticut Department of Labor.

For updates on CBIA's education and workforce development programs, click here.