Clean energy jobs have been growing at a rate of 9.1% in the U.S. over the past decade (compared with only 3.7% for traditional jobs), according to The Pew Charitable Trusts' report (06/10/09 issue). This growth in the clean energy sector is being driven by growing consumer awareness of climate change, the imminent adoption of carbon regulation and reporting requirements, and the diffusion of corporate carbon management practices. The growth opportunity extends well beyond the clean energy sector into electronics, software, financial services, and education, which will be seeking professional workers with appropriate expertise. Examples include: managers for software and electronics firms, who recognize new opportunities in clean energy; scientists and engineers transitioning into managerial position; policymakers and planners familiar with market-based and regulatory mechanisms for transportation, power, and environmental protection; business managers who know how to track, manage, report, and trade carbon; consulting firms oriented toward clean energy, efficiency, and carbon markets; and financial service professionals familiar with renewable energy finance, carbon trading, and carbon risk assessment. The transition to a low carbon economy (from a high carbon economy) will entail radical economic change that promises to transform entire industries, reshape our cities and infrastructure, and change our lives as consumers and in the workplace. The challenge of climate change thus creates an urgent need - indeed, a vast opportunity - for a major education initiative to prepare for and manage the impending transition.
As part of a state initiative funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, a Business and Professional Education for the Clean Energy Economy (BPECEE) program was developed by a joint effort between the Center for Sustainable Enterprise and Regional Competitiveness (SERC) at the College of Management and the Department of Environmental, Earth, and Ocean Sciences (EEOS) at the College of Science and Mathematics. This effort will launch two certificate programs in Clean Energy and Sustainability, one at the graduate level and housed in SERC, and the other at the undergraduate level and housed in EEOS. In addition, a Clean Energy undergraduate minor will be offered through EEOS. This BPECEE program will provide the workforce with the skills and knowledge which will enable them to play more effective roles as professionals, policymakers, and business managers. It will also generate a cluster of clean energy capabilities that will increase the competitiveness of the region, increasing investment and employment with clean energy firms and related service sectors.