Chris Madison is the Senior Writer for the American Wind Energy Association. This blog is the second in our series on the wind energy sector.
In the American wind energy industry, 2010 is a very important year for worker training and education. The industry’s trade association, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), is developing a way for schools that offer wind technician training to gain an AWEA Seal of Approval for their program.
There are scores of schools offering this training, and more are planning programs. Good news for their students, too: there are jobs. According to a story on SFGate.com, wind technician is one of the few categories where jobs are growing right now. AWEA also maintains an Education Programs Database containing a searchable list of all the programs of which AWEA has been made aware. The database can be found on AWEA’s website.
"People who install and service wind turbines are finding lots of job opportunities if they have good credentials," says Laurence Shatkin, PhD, author of 150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs. "When a community college in New Mexico started an associate degree program for wind energy technicians in 2008, an official of General Electric promised to hire all graduates of the program for the next three years."
A strong precedent was established during the 2008 Columbia Gorge Community College Summer Institute, where industry leaders and educators developed a preliminary version of a Wind Turbine Service Technician Core Skill Set. Next came an AWEA Education Survey, which asked industry and education members to rate the importance of the skills put together at the Summer Institute. Over 130 industry members participated in the survey. In June 2009, educators and wind industry companies met to further refine the Wind Turbine Service Technician Core Skill Set, which was approved by the AWEA Board of Directors last November.
Now AWEA is working to set up a process for evaluating a training programs’ curriculum using the skill set approved by the AWEA board. AWEA is also setting up an industry review committee. After those tasks are completed, schools will be invited to apply for the AWEA Seal of Approval for their wind technician programs. Information will be posted on the AWEA website as it becomes available.
It has been a long process but, in the end, there will be many benefits. For many AWEA member companies, including wind project developers, the wind technician recruitment and hiring practice will be streamlined because they will know that candidates coming from a program that has the Seal of Approval have learned the skills deemed necessary by AWEA’s industry and academic members. There is also a benefit for the training programs and students graduating from these approved programs when it comes to recruitment of instructors and students, and job prospects.
What do you think is the best way of evaluating a training program’s curriculum, what sort of criteria should we establish to accomplish this task?
Modified On : April 19, 2010
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