As part of Orange Countyâ€™s quest to grow and nurture its local economy, area economic-development officials are investigating ways to create green-collar jobs and the talent to fill them.
â€œThere is a conversation going on right now with the two school systems about how to prepare students for this type of work,â€ explains James Harris, Carrboroâ€™s economic-development director and chairman of Orange County Communities in Schools. The programs would especially target students who donâ€™t plan to attend college. â€œItâ€™s our hope that the students will be able to work as apprentices and end up with a certificate upon completing the training.â€
Last summer, Communities in Schools and Duke University developed a summer camp for rising ninth graders that introduced them to green jobs and solar-energy production. And now Durham Tech is considering a solar energy production equipment installation and maintenance program at its Orange County campus. Harris also hopes to offer Central Carolina Community Collegeâ€™s program in biofuels production and engine design in Orange County.
These programs should help Orange County provide a skilled workforce to attract green-collar employers.
â€œWorkforce development and education have to go the same way,â€ says Bradly Broadwell, director of the Orange County Economic Development Commission. Educating todayâ€™s kids for tomorrowâ€™s jobs is a smart strategy. â€œIf youâ€™re dynamic enough, your economy is going to be relatively stable.â€ â€” Margot C. Lester