Friday, February 22, 2013

CCC members reaching for the sun

CCC members installing solar panels

Well known as a leader in all things green – from its sustainable landscaping and energy-efficient buildings to its green-career preparation programs, Cuyamaca College’s latest venture has youthful members of the California Conservation Corps excited about green jobs.
A pilot program put together by the college’s Continuing Education and Workforce Training Division recently linked the CCC’s San Diego center with San Diego Gas & Electric , providing  24 corps members 116 hours of introductory experience and training in a variety of job fields in the sustainability sector: green building retrofitting and performance, energy auditing, home-energy rating and solar photovoltaic installation.
The program, financially backed by the state chancellor’s office, along with SDG&E, proved so successful, with nearly 100 percent completion of the four program modules, that a new CCC class is on tap, expected to begin in a matter of weeks.
College president Mark L. Zacovic said the program is an example of the college’s progressive philosophy of preparing today’s workforce for tomorrow’s jobs.
“We’re ecstatic over the success of this pilot program and we’re delighted to continue to offer this class with Workforce Innovations Partnership grant funds from the state,” he said.
Molly Hughes, program manager for the college’s Workforce Innovations Partnership, also known as the Green Ventures Project, praised corps members for sticking with the pilot program through completion.
“The corps members worked their regular jobs helping protect our environment, then came to the college all day Fridays and Saturdays on their own time for three months to learn about sustainability,” she said.
Officially called the Sustainable Green Building Pathway Program, it was a starting point for the 18- to 25-year-old corps members interested in green careers, but unsure of the pathway to reach their goal. In addition to a hands-on introduction to a variety of green jobs, the corps members also each received a $200 stipend, personalized career counseling and three training certificates to enhance their resumes and boost their employability.
“We got a lot of information about water and solar energy – a lot of us as corps member didn’t have any background in that,” said Nathaniel Christenson, 24, of Clairemont Mesa. “I would love to get more training and it really opened my eyes to a bright future in green jobs. The class also helped me be more conservation-sensitive. Using the sun’s energy and harvesting rainwater – that kind of information is really good.”
CCC crew supervisor William Johnson said the San Diego center has had a relationship with Cuyamaca College going back some five years, partnering in other job-training initiatives.
“We’ve done weatherization of some low-income housing, and we thought, ‘why don’t we start a crew to install solar panels,” he said.
Three crews of corps members, with everyone wearing what are known as yo-yo safety harnesses, installed rooftop panels on three houses.
“It was a really neat experience, working with people who had their own solar-thermal companies,” said Rafael Gilbert, 20, of San Ysidro. “It showed me another path to take. With more training and experience, I could get hired by companies. It’s a steppingstone – a guideline to get into a green career.”
For more information about Green Ventures, go to www.cuyamaca.edu/greenventures/