Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico's Third District has introduced legislation that will help community colleges provide clean energy workforce training. The Community College Energy Training Act provides grants to support the training of technicians to work in the wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass energy sectors. The bill also covers other energy-related occupations, including energy-efficient building construction and retrofitting, recycling and waste reduction, water and energy conservation, and sustainable agriculture. Luján introduced the same bill in the last Congress, and will again push for its passage.
"New Mexico has tremendous potential to lead the nation into a clean energy future that takes advantage of the solar and wind resources across the state. In order for our state and our nation to be global leaders, we need to have a qualified workforce that is trained and ready to get to work on the latest cutting-edge developments in clean energy technology," Congressman Luján said. "Community colleges play an integral role in training and retraining hard-working New Mexicans who want to get ahead and learn the skills that will open up new opportunities. By providing resources to community colleges and helping them expand their curriculum in the growing field of clean energy, we can help students compete for the good jobs of tomorrow."
Luján's legislation has received the support of community colleges from across New Mexico.
"The Community College Energy Training Act of 2013 would provide more of the momentum we need as a country to more quickly transition to the kind of green economy that will spur meaningful economic growth," said Central New Mexico Community College President Katharine Winograd. "This legislation would empower our community colleges to be even more effective in quickly responding to the workforce training needs of emerging energy industries. The legislation would help these industries grow faster while helping community colleges generate a very promising pipeline to good jobs for the citizens and students we serve."
"We at Santa Fe Community College support this legislation and are excited about the role of community colleges in creating the training programs green industries need for today's new energy economy," said Dr. Ana M. Guzmán, President of Santa Fe Community College. "Congressman Luján is to be commended for this forward-thinking bill, which will help us provide access to quality education to help students prepare for good paying jobs. Workforce development and economic development are integral to our mission. We work closely with local business and industry to develop training and retooling programs that provide students what they need to participate in New Mexico's green and technology economies. This bill will help meet the need of students and industry going forward."
The Community College Energy Training Act of 2013 establishes grants to community colleges to be jointly awarded by the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Energy for training in these various fields. Fifty percent of the annual $100 million authorization will be used to create community college programs that focus on the renewable resource industries in a given region, allowing students to train in fields that impact their own communities. The other 50 percent goes toward upgrading existing programs throughout the country that are already providing this type of job training and education.