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PG&E Partners To Deliver Clean-Tech Job Skills

  • February 7, 2011

Steve Westly, California’s former state controller and a prominent clean-tech venture capitalist, recently sounded the alarm in the San Jose Mercury News about the need for Silicon Valley to stay competitive with China, India and other rising economic powers. At the top of his priority list: finding or creating  “well-educated and highly skilled workers with the flexibility to quickly respond to changing business conditions.”

That’s a huge challenge for businesses across the country, not just Silicon Valley. As the HR Policy Association noted in a recent report, “The educational system in the United States seems to be having great difficulty producing graduates with the requisite skills to staff the jobs of the 21st century.”

Even with today’s high unemployment, finding the right people with the right skills to fill today’s complex roles is a challenge, especially in the electric sector.  Growing mandates for clean energy, smart grids, and energy efficiency create ever-greater demand for engineers and technical professionals with state-of-the-art skills.

That’s why educational-industry partnerships are gaining a following, such as those cultivated by PG&E through its PowerPathway™ workforce development program.

PG&E’s PowerPathway™ is collaborating with California State University, East Bay (CSU East Bay) and The Workforce Institute, a division of San Jose/Evergreen Community College District, to offer an innovative new Certificate in Integrated Energy Solutions Program.

It grows out of a $2,000,000 Green Innovation Challenge Grant awarded last year by the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency to The Workforce Institute and CSU East Bay to encourage business-led partnerships to develop and implement new training strategies that will prepare workers for jobs in a broad range of clean technologies.

Wasting no time, CSU East Bay will soon announce a new four-course offering that focuses on boosting the skills of technical professionals in designing energy efficient systems for commercial, residential and industrial environments.  Classes begin March 31.

Open to students with a B.S. degree or higher in physical sciences, technology, engineering or mathematics, courses will help students deliver real-world energy efficiency integration solutions to clients at utilities, architectural, engineering and design firms—green companies with a passion for delivering energy-saving programs and services to consumers.

Van Ton-Quinlivan, director of workforce development at PG&E and architect of PowerPathway, said, “This is one of many responsive solutions that can be crafted when industry and education can find ways to partner effectively in response to changing market demands.”  She added that because the course material is so new, there is a high level of industry participation in defining and delivering the curriculum.

To learn more or register for the Certificate in Integrated Energy Solutions Program, visit CSU East Bay.

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