Green Jobs Summit Series Kicks Off to a Great Start

Praween Dayananda, NWF, and Anson Green, Director, Mission Verde Center/Mayor's Green Jobs Task Force, San Antonio  // Photo by Julian Keniry // All Rights Reserved.
Praween Dayananda, NWF, and Anson Green, Director, Mission Verde Center/Mayor's Green Jobs Task Force, San Antonio

Yesterday was a big day for Campus Ecology; the “Preparing the Texas Workforce for the New Green Economy” Summit in San Antonio, Texas was a huge success. It was the first in a series of regional summits put on by the Greenforce Initiatve that NWF and Jobs for the Future (JFF) have jointly created to help spur green jobs education, innovation and training at community colleges in select regions across the country.

South Texas College hosted the event, designed to identify economic development opportunities and build relationships between employers, campuses, and lower-skilled adults. Nearly 70 key workforce leaders represented about 20 organizations, including campuses, employers, workforce development agencies and other groups from throughout the South Texas region.  Partner colleges in attendance included Palo Alto College, Lone Star College-CyFair, St. Phillip College- Alamo Colleges, and Texas State Technical College.

“It was great seeing all the enthusiasm about this work across the southern Texas region,” said Gloria Mwase,  Program Director at Jobs for the Future.  “The colleges noted especially over and over how valuable it was to hear from and learn from each other.  And it was really exciting to see the assets that are in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and how they are engaged in helping lower-skilled adults succeed.”

The mood of the summit was very optimistic: employers spoke passionately about the opportunities they are seeing to grow business by greening their industries and creating greener jobs.  In addition to discussing the current skills needed by green employers, there was also much discussion of the future of green jobs in the region – especially regarding the opportunities arising in solar and wind power.

On the education side of the question, college leaders shared their strategies for greening their campuses and building hands-on training opportunities for students. They also spoke of the hurdles they face when implementing various programs and attempting to create apprenticeships for students – problems that the Greenforce Initiative is striving to help alleviate.

 “It was amazing to see how much each of these schools is actually doing in the sustainability and green jobs areas,” said Lisa Madry, Campus Ecology’s Campus Field Director “A lot is happening that I’m not sure was ever put all in one place before.”

(article based on notes taken by Julian Keniry, reporting live from the “Preparing the Texas Workforce for the New Green Economy” Summit)