The Two-Year Colleges’ Role in Building the Future Geoscience Technical Workforce

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 9:15 AM
Ben Wolfe, Metropolitan Community College-Kansas City, Department of Natural Sciences, Kansas City, MO, United States
Careers in energy science related fields represent significant job growth in the U.S. Yet post-secondary career and technical programs have not kept pace with demand and energy science curriculum, including fundamental concepts of energy generation and environmental impact, lacks a firm position among general or career and technical education courses. Many of these emerging energy related jobs are skilled labor and entry level technical positions requiring less than a bachelor’s degree. These include jobs such as solar/photovoltaic design and installation, solar water and space heating installation, energy management, efficiency and conservation auditor, environmental technician, etc. These energy related career pathways fit naturally within the geosciences discipline. Many of these jobs can be filled by individuals from HVAC, Industrial technology, welding, and electrical degree programs needing some additional specialized training and curriculum focused on fundamental concepts of energy, fossil fuel exploration and use, atmospheric pollution, energy generation, alternative energy sources, and energy conservation. Two-year colleges (2ycs) are uniquely positioned to train and fill these workforce needs as they already have existing career and technical programs and attract both recent high school graduates, as well as non-traditional students including displaced workers and returning veterans. We have established geoscience related workforce certificate programs that individuals completing the traditional industrial career and technical degrees can obtain to meet these emerging workforce needs. This presentation will discuss the role of geosciences programs at 2ycs in training these new workers, developing curriculum, and building a career/technical program that is on the forefront of this evolving industry.