New York adds $15 million to clean energy workforce funding (here’s where it’s going)

new york solar projects

It can’t be said enough: the solar industry and the clean energy economy means jobs. For a state like New York that has big forward-thinking plans, that means prepping a workforce for this new world, which is why the state has approved $15 million in new funding for clean energy workforce development and training programs on SUNY campuses.

Nearly $6 million was awarded to SUNY campuses to train more workers in the clean energy sector. In addition, a request for proposals was made available to all SUNY campuses for grants totaling $9 million to provide apprenticeships, internships, and educational programs and support through industry partnerships across the state. These initiatives are part of Climate Jobs NY, a component of Clean Climate Careers initiative.

“As the federal government moves further away from responsible energy policy and clean energy production, New York is committed to fighting climate change and protecting our environment,” N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “We will continue to take bold action to promote clean energy across the state and support job growth in cutting-edge, renewable industries.”

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As part of the $9 million RFP for additional grants, the SUNY university system will explore opportunities for partnerships with state and local agencies, including the Department of Labor, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Empire State Development, and Industrial Development Agencies. These partnerships will aim to meet existing and emerging critical workforce needs of New York’s clean energy industry, drive regional economic development, and provide hands-on learning to students.

Up to $1 million of the RFP is allocated specifically for Community College Regional Council awards to develop events and workshops that will facilitate partnerships between clean energy industry players and SUNY community colleges in the region, share best practices amongst community colleges on curricula materials and tools to accelerate the pace of clean energy workforce development, and plan regional strategies to promote a culture of environmental sustainability.

Campus proposals awarded today were reviewed by a committee with representation from SUNY, NYSERDA, and the Department of Labor.

The awarded proposals include the following:

Binghamton University will establish a Clean Energy Undergraduate Research Program within its Freshman Research Immersion program. The new clean energy program will provide a summer component, including research fellowships for under-represented minority students and internships with clean energy companies.

Buffalo State College will develop clean energy certificate programs in partnership with the New York Power Authority. The certificates will also earn students credits toward an associate or bachelor’s degree.

University at Buffalo will develop a Western New York Clean Energy Workforce Development program to include a certification and micro-credentialing, which may take the form of digital badges or other micro-awards—to both meet business and industry expectations and motivate and prepare well-rounded students with highly marketable skills.

SUNY Canton will enhance its Solar Ready Vets program on site at Fort Drum. The training provides a micro-credential program in renewable energy specifically for veterans transitioning to civilian life.

Erie Community College will enhance its non-credit continuing education units for architects and engineers, as well as building and code inspectors, by including electrical/photovoltaic solar updates for curricula design.

Farmingdale State College will develop certificate and fast track training programs within its Renewable Energy and Sustainability Center to meet emerging needs of the clean energy industry. The Renewable Energy and Sustainability Center will partner with local industry to identify short- and long-term needs.

SUNY Maritime will receive funding for two programs. The first, through its Off-Shore Energy Center, will develop a wind operations technician training program, as well as dynamic positioning training and certification courses for off-shore vessel operators. The second will develop a certification in partnership with the liquid natural gas industry. Coursework from the program will also be incorporated into licensing programs for licensed mariners.

Nassau Community College will develop new curriculum to include Energy Industry Fundamentals certificates.

SUNY Oswego will develop and enhance the campus’s energy laboratories to support the curriculum of multiple departments. The campus will also expand research and applied learning opportunities and strengthen collaboration and student transfer between SUNY Oswego and Onondaga Community College.

SUNY Polytechnic Institute will partner with SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and SUNY Oneonta to offer experiential learning opportunities for students to apply green building principles by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certifying SUNY campus buildings. LEED Accredited Professionals will engage undergraduate students in the LEED Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance certification process and the LEED for Building Design and Construction via experiential learning projects tied to new courses.

— Solar Builder magazine

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