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CUNY to Use $4M in City Funding for Green Workforce Programs

The higher ed system will use nearly $4 million to boost workforce development to prepare workers for jobs relating to clean energy technology, such as offshore wind and electric car development.

Six schools in the City University of New York (CUNY) system will soon use $3.98 million in city funding to help “train the next generation of professionals for climate-smart careers."

According to a news release, the aim of the funding will be for workforce development geared toward building a talent pipeline from local public colleges to clean tech industries as employers struggle to find qualified applicants to fill vacant tech positions and work to become more environmentally sustainable and energy efficient.

“The climate crisis is real, and we need to find ways to build our workforce to address this pressing problem in our city. This investment in CUNY helps our city prepare for climate change while also equipping our students with the updated technology and training they need to secure experience and jobs in this critical sector,” CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez said in the announcement.

Noting that New York is already home to 157,000 clean energy jobs, with another 6,800 expected jobs on the way from offshore wind, the announcement added that the funding will go toward training programs touching electrical vehicle repair, the creation of courses and curriculum focusing on "green energy solutions" and new certifications for careers in clean energy tech, among other focuses.

“Creating a green jobs pipeline for New York City students is essential to capitalize on the growth of our new emerging sectors and ensure good paying jobs are going to New Yorkers,” said Andrew Kimball, president and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. "With such an enormous potential for job creation in the years to come particularly in the offshore wind industry, we must continue to advance our Offshore Wind Vision plan and ensure students receive the training and education needed to jump-start their careers in our green economy."

The six colleges receiving funding include:

  • Kingsborough Community College, to renovate and update its Maritime Technology T3 building with modern training equipment and new facilities to accommodate more students, among other facility upgrades. The college will also make upgrades to the CUNY 1, a hybrid-powered catamaran training vessel platform for green sailing and research, and provide certifications relevant to offshore wind occupations such as welding.
  • Baruch College, which will work with faculty mentors for 12 weeks on research related to green energy and didactic sessions with climate scientists, as well as programming to expose 2,600 first-year undergraduate CUNY students and 65 middle and high school students to renewable energy issues and skills.
  • Bronx Community College, to train students for hybrid and electric car repair jobs as well as a course on autonomous cars.
  • City Tech, to develop courses on green energy solutions, as well as workshops and training modules on GIS, geospatial data analysis, remote sensing, plus developing opportunities for offshore wind work.
  • LaGuardia Community College, Kingsborough Community College and City Tech’s Bridge to Offshore Wind Program, which will expose students to offshore wind careers, as well as education and training demands from within the industry.
  • CUNY’s Advanced Science Research Center and Lehman College, to bring six students from Lehman College, Hostos Community College, Baruch College and Medgar Evers College for research into green energy technologies, including solar and evaporation energy harvesting, and biodegradable batteries.

“We must equip the next generation with the means to transition to a green economy rather than continue our reliance on fossil fuels. The CCS program provides vital education and professional experience that would ease that transition in NYC. Already, it has allowed me the opportunity to conduct hands-on research in implementing climate tracking technology to analyze climate trends and hopefully prevent them,” Ishrat Jahan, a CUNY Climate Scholar and Hunter College student, said in the news release.

According to the announcement, the city has recently committed $191 million to offshore wind projects, including $57 million in support of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and $134 million in new investments. The city has a goal of running its power grid on 100 percent clean energy by 2040.

The news release added that recent clean energy workforce development investments aim to help create 13,000 jobs related to offshore wind infrastructure.

The move at CUNY comes as other universities invest more in climate change and clean energy research and training, such as through a new $80 million Innovation Campus in California for workforce development efforts to meet a growing demand for lithium, a key component in rechargeable batteries in electric vehicles, and National Science Foundation research to study the use of deep learning technology and satellite imagery to gauge climate change’s impacts.