Retraining For A Renewable Future

on August 20, 2011 at 10:00 AM

With employment figures in the US remaining bleak, retraining workers for jobs in the renewable energy industry is becoming priority for many institutions.
Ecotech Institute, a for-profit college based in Colorado, is the first and currently the only college fully dedicated to training its students in the field of renewable energy. Owned and operated by Education Corporation of America, Ecotech says it is seeking to meet the needs of that quickly-expanding industry and place its graduates into the workforce with the necessary technological and professional skills.

Approximately 300 students are currently enrolled in the school with a predicted large incoming class, said Ecotech Dean Glenn Wilson. The curriculum offers courses in the fields of renewable energy, sustainable design, and energy efficiency, with courses costing $365 per credit hour.

The training is predicated on finding student’s jobs, the college says, and renewable energy careers are seen as a source of potential employment.

“Our curriculum is based that way,” said Wilson.
“We partner with career services to build the curriculum for what potential employers want.”

Though recent debate over for-profit colleges suggest potential concerns for aspects of the Ecotech Institute education, the school’s board member Colin Coyne shrugged off intimations of potentially over-exaggerated job promises, expressing confidence in the school’s potential.

“[The debate is] laughable in that do you know how many people are graduating from public schools with debt,” he told Breaking Energy. “Ecotech is training technically proficient individuals who will have a job waiting for them.”

The growing need for trained and ready workers within the energy industry is what sparked the idea for the establishment of Ecotech, which says it plans to open another outlet next year in Austin, Texas.

“It is relevant because to me there is going to be a growing need of professionals and technicians to serve the new energy based economy; that I think is going to and must evolve,” said Coyne.

The rapidly changing energy industry has also grasped the attention of many students, prompting their pursuit of an Ecotech degree. Mike Streight, a retired Navy marine and student at Ecotech specializing in the wind industry, told Breaking Energy the energy industry’s increasing importance for the future lead him to enroll.

“I think this will be a major boost for the US to have quality and employable people in a field where unfortunately we are behind a lot of other countries and the rest of the world,” said Streight.