Tuition for green jobs training still a risky investment for students
The Vanguard Vision
March 28, 2011 —
Spring is officially here and while many Cardinals are hoping to trade dirty snow for a green courtyard, others are hoping to trade a traditional career track for green jobs.
This spring and summer, new course offerings aim to train and certify students for work with “green” technologies and standards such as wind farm machinery, solar panels and LEED-certified building specifications.
With a class or two, students can acquire credentials for “go green” jobs, so the low cost of training and certification may appeal to many students. They’ll be making an investment in a possible growth industry without paying for a whole degree program.
Even so, is the investment cost in green jobs certification likely to garner a return for students anytime soon?
Marketing assistant Tanya Blehm of the Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development says these courses are meant to prepare students for “a higher demand for these types of jobs as companies become more green” by using or selling eco-friendly products.
This higher demand has yet to be seen in Saginaw and the Tri-Cities.
For the green education to pay off, there has to be real growth in the green job market. In Michigan’s woeful economy, it’s difficult to tell whether the green job initiatives are actually going to make a significant contribution to business. Upfront investment costs are steep, and, as research shows, the benefits are questionable.
The Telegraph recently reported on a study from Gabriel Calzada Alverez at Spain’s Rey Juan Carlos University that found that “for every ‘green job’ that is created another 2.2 jobs are lost in the real economy.”
A Norwegian study of Denmark’s wind power industry shows that turbine technology has “serious environmental effects, insufficient production, and high production costs.”
Some businesses are cashing in on state and federal subsidies for green jobs initiatives, but in a political climate where government spending receives much scrutiny, how long can the funding last? If green energy were practical and profitable, would we need the government to pay for industry research and production? Is there enough demand from consumers to keep the green market going?
These questions reflect the uncertainty in the green jobs sector nationwide, and as Michigan shows, the green jobs sector has yet to live up to the hype of a booming growth industry.
Green jobs still seem to represent little more than a passing fad among the extremely environmentally conscious and a positive PR move for savvy companies.
At this point, investing in green jobs training is still risky business.