Los Angeles, CA — There is a simple yet profound movement going on in America today, and as with many things in the past, California is one of the states on the leading edge of this change.

The movement might best be called the Greening of America, and you can see the results everywhere-from grocery stores with their recycled shopping bags to state government chambers where laws are passed banning the use of plastic bags.

In the education arena, the Greening of America is in part translating into a whole new curriculum classification, and no where is that more evident than at Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC).

In the fall of 2006, LATTC’s college council approved the adoption of a Green College Initiative that has manifested itself in part in a wave of green-related courses and programs that range from alternative fuels and emissions reductions in diesel to water supply technology.

In fact, the two-year college, which is noted for its array of courses, degrees and certificate programs that enable students to walk out of school and into jobs, has 52 green-integrated courses and four green-related degree and certificate programs in the career-technical, science, health and liberal arts arenas.

This recognition of the importance of educating American students for these future jobs comes from the very top of the U.S. government–President Barack Obama-whose American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 includes funding for competitive grants to support training in high-growth and emerging industries, such as green jobs and health care.

U.S. Senator Patty Murray in January also introduced legislation (S.268) that would provide funding for a Green Job Corps program, YouthBuild, Build Green Grants, and Green-Collar Youth Opportunity Grants which was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Additionally, the federal Employment and Training Administration has developed a draft of a green jobs framework for action. And in December 2007, former President George Bush signed the Green Jobs Act to train workers for green collar jobs. That legislation authorized $125 million for workforce training programs targeted at veterans, displaced workers, at-risk youth and families in extreme poverty. It was to train them for jobs like installing solar panels and weatherization.

According to Green for All, by 2006, the renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies had generated 8.5 million new jobs, nearly $970 billion in revenue and more than $100 billion industry profits.

But according to the National Renewable Energy Lab, one of the major barriers to a more rapid adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the U.S. is insufficient skills and training.
According to a report by the Center for American Progress, “Green jobs exist, and are growing, in a range of industries and at every skill and wage level. Many are in the skilled trades: Manufacturing, construction, operation and maintenance, and installation. Most are “middle-skill” jobs, requiring more education than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree. Some are a bridge to high-skill professional jobs or entrepreneurial opportunities; others are perfect entry level or transitional jobs for urban residents looking for a pathway out of poverty. In short, green jobs are the kind of family-supporting jobs that once anchored the American middle class, but in the industries of the future: Industries like wind turbine manufacturing, solar panel installation, energy efficiency retrofits, and green building.”

While Trade Tech is one of the schools at the forefront of the green education movement, it is not alone. The University of Montana system offers a wide selection of courses through a number of its colleges and universities. For example, Miles Community Colleges prepares students to work in industries related to hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and ethanol.

Montana State University Northern offers a bachelor’s of science degree in automotive and diesel technology.

In Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, some of their high school students will learn “green” construction techniques, while the Green-Collar Jobs Campaign has created a pilot program called Oakland Green Jobs Corps funded by $250,000 from the Oakland City Council.

The Green Jobs Corps will be a collaboration among community-based organizations, unions, the City of Oakland, and private companies. It will provide local Oakland residents with job training, support, and work experience so that they can independently pursue careers in the new energy economy.

This is just the tip of the green movement iceberg. As the push for sustainability and protecting the earth and its eco-systems continues to gather support, more educational outlets are sure to come online, teaching the skills and techniques needed to offer solutions to the problems.