As Heads of State Return from Paris-21 with New Climate Commitments in Place, U.S. Education Leaders Release National Plan to Prepare Millions of Community College Students for the New, Clean Economy Workforce

Today, Jobs for the Future, National Wildlife Federation, Bank of America and education leaders all across North America are releasing Greenprint: A Plan to Prepare Community College Students for Careers in the Clean Economy. This plan comes at a critical time as 190 heads of state recently met in Paris for the COP-21 to address the need to curtail climate change and eliminate greenhouse gas pollution. These leaders will challenge all nations to develop a workforce skilled in sustainability. This new report begins to address the challenge of linking environmental quality and workforce development and highlights the following:

Competitive employers require a workforce with 21st-century skills and sustainability basics. Workers need to be equipped with the new skills required for millions of new jobs that are eclipsing their older, fossil-fuel-based counterparts and providing comparatively better wages for adults across all demographics, including lower-skilled adults.
America’s workforce needs to have the skill sets to curtail carbon pollution. This will require rapidly scaling up innovations in dozens of industries such as clean energy generation, distribution and storage; smarter grids; smarter transportation systems; more sustainable food and agriculture; improved forest management; restored coastal ecosystems; and closed loop manufacturing
Community colleges are uniquely positioned to help develop these skills in America’s workforce. In the U.S., the majority of jobs requiring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) will require education beyond high school, including that provided by the nation’s 1,200 community colleges. And for millions of adults, community colleges will provide the pathways into STEM jobs. The imperative for community colleges to prepare graduates with sustainability skills will only increase as these STEM fields become greener.

“Community colleges are on the frontlines of sustainability skills education, with nearly 40 percent pioneering educational initiatives that promote sustainability skills,” explains Maria Flynn, senior vice president of Jobs for the Future. “These initiatives contribute to students’ career potential, respond to local employer needs, support the health of the regional environment, and benefit the local economy.”

“Imagine the possibilities if community colleges had all the support they need to equip the next-generation workforce with skills in areas such as clean energy generation, distribution and storage; lean and green manufacturing; and protection of water quality and wildlife,” says Kevin Coyle, vice president of education of the National Wildlife Federation. “The Greenprint report illustrates the important roles that community college leaders will play in accelerating these positive trends and is something we hope that the world leaders at the COP-21 will pay attention to, embrace and support.”

Highlights of the Greenprint plan include:

A call to key stakeholder groups such as government and the private sector to work with education institutions to increase programs and employment opportunities for a workforce with sustainability skills.
A review of federal and state policy vehicles that can provide clearer and more direct support of sustainability skills and knowledge.
The marrying of sustainability education programs with STEM education.
How student organizations can play a role in supporting the nation’s transition to a greener workforce.

“When we launched initiatives such as Greenforce with Jobs for the Future in 2010 and Campus Ecology in 1989 in the U.S., with education leaders across hundreds of 2- and 4-year colleges and universities, we envisioned a whole new generation of graduates, equipped to lead the way for healthy, clean, wildlife-friendly communities,” says Julian Keniry, senior director at the National Wildlife Federation, “and that is now happening thanks to bold innovation and leadership by college and university presidents, faculty and students. This plan is part of our collective determination across organizations and programs, nationwide, to create a clean, green economy in the U.S. and beyond, by ensuring education is central to the solutions.”

“Connecting individuals, including young adults, to education and job training that will put them on a path to success is critical to economic growth in local communities across the country,” says Kerry Sullivan, president of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. “We recognize that the expansion of a low carbon, green economy offers great opportunities for the workforce, and we’re honored to partner with Jobs for the Future and the National Wildlife Federation to help advance this effort.”
The Greenprint plan was created by thought leaders representing industry associations, student groups, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and higher education entities in the U.S. and Canada who participated in a national and statewide convenings as part of the Greenforce Initiative, organized by the National Wildlife Federation and Jobs for the Future with support from Bank of America Charitable Foundation, NASA, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The Kendeda Fund and other donors.

We encourage community colleges and employers to discuss this new plan with #highered and #sustainability.

About Jobs for the Future
Jobs for the Future is a national nonprofit that works to ensure educational and economic opportunity for all. We develop innovative career pathways, educational resources, and public policies that increase college readiness and career success, and build a more highly skilled workforce. With over 30 years of experience, JFF is the national leader in bridging education and work to increase mobility and strengthen our economy.

About Bank of America Charitable Foundation
At Bank of America, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is critical to fulfilling our core purpose of making people’s financial lives better. A commitment to growing our business responsibly is embedded in every aspect of our company, from our policies and practices to our services, products, governance and employee benefits. An important part of that commitment is forming strong partnerships across sectors, including nonprofit organizations serving community needs, bringing our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact. We’re proud of our employees’ volunteer efforts, support of diversity and inclusion, and environmental and social responsibility. Across our company, we’re focused on simplifying banking and investing, advancing better money habits and making an impact in communities around the world.



Related Resources

Read the report

Greenpoint: A Plan to Prepare Community College Students for Careers in the Clean Economy

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