Green technology program comes to City College

Instructor Jerry Bernstein, bottom  right, instructs students in the basics of solar panel installation during a public interest workshop at the Evans Campus on Feb. 7. ISSAC CRUMMEY / THE GUARDSMAN
Instructor Jerry Bernstein, bottom right, instructs students in the basics of solar panel installation during a public interest workshop at the Evans Campus on Feb. 7. ISSAC CRUMMEY / THE GUARDSMAN

By Fleur Bailey

City College is implementing new educational programs as a pathway to new jobs in the green technology industry.

A directive to create green training programs and establish a green jobs industry advisory group was passed unanimously by the City College board of trustees on Jan. 29.

The board intends to establish a group to help the district’s faculty develop curriculum and establish major educational programs to provide training for employment in the green industry.

“This stimulus package from the government is going to make the renewable energy industry grow exponentially like we’ve never seen before,” Trustee John Rizzo said. “It’s going to be historic growth of this industry.”

The new programs will provide hands-on training that will  lead to employment opportunites in green energy industries like solar, wind, energy efficiency and geothermal fields. It may also lead to jobs in biodiversity and environmental sciences, and positions specialized for green industry, such as project management and sales.

“The green industry is excited to have this training program,” Rizzo said. “I believe the economy will change in the next ten years. We will switch over to green technologies and City College will be a part of it. This resolution makes the creation of a major green jobs training a priority for the board of trustees.”

New board member Chris Jackson is working with the Southeast Jobs Coalition, a group of community-based organizations which proposes to create jobs and workforce development in San Francisco’s Bayview and Hunter’s Point communities.

“An electricity of change needs to happen locally at our community college,” Jackson said. “I am very happy to see that people are looking forward to train our students for the next generation.”

The coalition provides access to all San Francisco residents, but it asks City College to target outreach to groups which are traditionally underrepresented.

“We are specifically engineering the training to those of low-income, people of color, limited-English speakers and women,” extend the programs in the Southeast and Mission campuses. We hope to devote between $45,000-$50,000 to the Student Ambassador Program for outreach and recruitment.”

The coalition aims to involve all members of society, but especially residents in neighborhoods who have suffered the effects of an earlier era of a “pollution-based” economy.

“These are double-digit unemployment rate areas,” Jackson said. “Bayview and Hunters Point are in a serious recession. The country may have a cold right now, but Bayview has pneumonia.”

General education student Kendell Lewis has returned to college after he was laid off from his job at San Francisco City and County’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

“I’m going through a tough time right now,” the 25-year-old black man said. “Nobody is hiring. The economy is going down, things are changing and I have to change too. I came back to school to get some credentials as the recession is getting out of hand. The green jobs program is a good opportunity and the more help we can get the better. After all, green is where we’re going.”

Jackson said the lack of diversity in the bio-tech industry leaves little room for those with entry level skills. He believes the industry imploded as those with higher skills received more resources and those with lower skills received less.

“We hope to change that with this training,” he said. “We are providing an opportunity to unite the community with labor and business through sustainable technology and green jobs.”
City College is already offering a new solar technology workshop at the Evans campus and will be introducing a hybrid car technology class for the fall semester.

David Dias, project coordinator for the Alternative Transportation Technology and Energy Initiative at the Evans campus, has recruited students for the solar technology class.

“The program serves as a preview to the construction 101 class,” Dias said. “It prepares students to move into the workforce. There is a big push for the new technologies of the future to meet energy needs.”

With the work and enthusiasm of those involved, City College is on board with the crucial need for change in our environment and our economy.

“We hope to hit the ground running with this,” Rizzo said. “Within the next month we aim to create a road map of how we will do it. This training is not just for the underprivileged. The industry is going to need people who know what they are doing.”

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