Shoreline Community College gave Congress a glimpse of the present and future of green jobs in America.
SCC President Lee Lambert and student Phil Lou presented testimony April 21 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in a hearing is titled "Empowering Workers to Rebuild America's Economy and Longer-Term Competitiveness: Green Skills Training for Workers." The committee includes Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who chaired the hearing.
“It’s new technology, but an old mission,” Lambert said of community and technical colleges providing workforce education and training. In his remarks, Lambert highlighted two SCC programs, Automotive Technology and Zero Energy Technology.
Lambert also touched on access issues facing the college and students. He described Washington State’s I-BEST program, which integrates language and basic skills instruction with subject-area instruction to help those students who need help in those areas.
Lambert told the senators that partnerships are an important part of SCC’s approach. As an example, he cited SCC’s automotive program that combines support from Toyota, a Department of Labor grant, area car dealers and the community to create a General Service Technician program. Graduates of GST can move into the workplace or continue in one of the manufacturer-supported programs for further training, he said.
Lou, 48, told the Senate panel that while many think of community colleges as a first step before moving on to a four-year degree, he’s an example of the opposite. “I received a degree from the University of Oregon, but came to Shoreline Community College for the Renewable Energy Program.”
Lou is a student in the Zero Energy Technology Program. The Vashon Island resident started with a class on designing solar electric systems for homes and businesses. The training prepared him to get a job with a Vashon electrical firm that was looking to start installing solar electric systems.
Also speaking were Dean Allen, Chief Executive Officer of McKinstry Co.; Mark H. Ayers, President, Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO; and Joan Evans, Director, Wyoming Department of Workforce Services. The hearing began with comments by the U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. Lambert and Lou also presented written testimony
Lambert and Lou ended up in Washington, D.C. after Sen. Murray’s office asked the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges to find appropriate representatives for the subject of the hearing. SBCTC staff then called Lambert, who in turn asked for suggestions for a student speaker. Zero Energy Technology Program Director Mike Nelson said he immediately thought of Lou.