Gov. Terry McAuliffe toured Tidewater Community College’s renewable energy labs on its Chesapeake Campus on Monday and praised the role community college plays in training the workforce to fill the jobs of tomorrow.
The visit was the final stop on McAuliffe’s Clean Energy Virginia Jobs Tours, which highlighted his executive order to cap carbon emissions in Virginia and create the next generation of Virginia energy jobs.
“I love what we are doing here,” said Gov. McAuliffe. “I’m pleased to join President Baehre-Kolovani, faculty and staff to get a firsthand look at how Virginia is training the next generation of clean energy workers.”
Solar jobs have increased 65 percent in Virginia in the last year alone, he said, making the commonwealth one of the fastest growing solar job markets in the nation.
Since 2010, TCC has offered a Career Studies Certificate in Renewable Energy Technologies that prepares students for careers in the manufacturing and installation of clean energy technologies such as wind and solar. Working labs with solar arrays and wind turbines enable students to gain the skills they need. Student training included installing the modules to collect solar and produce energy for two TCC buildings – the George B. Pass Building and CT-3.
Beginning in 2015, TCC partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Navy Region Mid-Atlantic on the Solar Ready Vets program to train transitioning military for careers in the clean energy industry.
“We created our solar education program in 2010 because our faculty saw the emerging demand for skilled and knowledgeable employees in the industry,” said President Kolovani. “TCC listens to employers, and we respond with high-quality education and workforce training programs in relevant high-demand areas. We are especially proud of Solar Ready Vets, which has trained almost 100 service members for careers after the military.”
The solar energy field expects to add 36,000 full-time people every year for the next six to eight years.
“The Renewable Energy Career Certificate and the Solar Ready Vets program bring together some of the governor’s top priorities of workforce development, career opportunities for our military veterans and economic diversification through the growth of 21st-century industries,” said Todd Haymore, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade. “Virginia’s community colleges are leading the charge of giving Virginians the certifications and credentials they need to be successful right here in the commonwealth. These programs are a testament to that leadership, and we look forward to more Virginians taking advantage of this opportunity.”
Gov. McAuliffe stressed his admiration for community colleges. “I visit them because they are important. In the coming years, 60 percent of new jobs will require a two-year degree. Community college – that is the sweet spot.”