With the fall semester winding down, members of the Class of 2013 are probably thinking about their impending final semester…and beyond. Beyond! What a mysterious and overwhelming place. Luckily, up-and-coming trends on campuses are green-themed job fairs, and building connections between students and local leaders in the green economy.

In addition to just one-time events, some institutions are strengthening relationships between employers and potential employees (also known as “students”) over the course of a semester by inviting them into the classroom, or by bringing students to the workplace to see what a green job is really all about. The green courses are focused not only on connecting students and employers, but also on broadening the horizons of students who may be unfamiliar with the green economy.

Earlier this fall, a series of regional Green Labor Market Review webinars hosted as part of the Greenforce Initiative (a collaboration between National Wildlife Federation and Jobs for the Future to strengthen the capacity of community colleges in six regions of the U.S. to develop, enhance or refine green career pathway programs) revealed that the green jobs sector is one of the fastest-growing in the nation. So, promoting green jobs skills in the classroom is an important step in supporting the growth.

Several institutions submitted case studies to ourBest Green Campus Projects of 2012 collection highlighting their commitment to arming their students with the right tools for the green trade—here’s a look at their work:

Lori from Larry’s Beans, an especially sustainable coffee roaster in Raleigh, NC, participates in the Wake Tech Green Symposium. Image Credit: Lisa Haywood
At Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina, a new course called the Green Symposium featured ten local green businesspeople who built a relationship with students enrolled in the course over the span of the semester, enabling the students to see the world through “green eyes.” At the end of the course, students and presenters hosted a job fair to promote the missions of the class to the broader campus community.

The College of Lake County is building an online tool to connect green job seekers with green jobs. The tool, created as part of the regional Green Economy Center, acts as not only a job search tool for Northeastern Illinois, but also offers resources for people interested in gaining the skills they need—a list of certification programs and news about the latest green jobs trends.

The Rappahannock Community College Green Vendor Fair not only promoted the wares of local green businesses to students, but also directly connected green workforce leaders with professors, opening conversation channels about skill sets in high demand, that professors can highlight in the classroom to ensure that students are well prepared and hold most needed skills upon graduation.

With so many institutions making strides to prepare their students for the green workforce, to help build and be part of the green economy, the idea of “the green economy” being synonymous with “the economy” is, perhaps, not that far off!

How is your campus engaging with local green businesses? How does your curriculum prepare students for the green workforce?

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