Do Green Jobs Initiatives Overlook the Real Issue?

Ross Hancock, spokesman for the American Welding Society, as quoted in Inside Higher Ed:

The American Welding Society gets concerned when we see Congress act, as it did this year, to discontinue funding for proven programs like the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technical Training programs in favor of brand new “green jobs” education… That’s because, right now, there is a shortage of skilled welders in this country, with welders retiring twice as fast as new ones enter the workforce. This trend is having a critical effect on our ability to compete in both “green” and traditional industries.

This is just a repeat of what we’ve seen in the past in vocational education, where something will become very popular in the education industry, such as the training of people to become computer operators or for data entry positions. There’s a big emphasis on them, and it always came at the expense of tradition skills training. We’re going down that same path again, like when we trained everyone to be computer programmers when what we really needed were more people trained in traditional trade skills for construction and manufacturing. I mean, sometimes you’ll see these computer labs sparkling and then you’ll see welding labs in mothballs.

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.