Typically no single regional workforce program solution can fully meet industry demand for training in the rapidly changing technologies of the emerging glean energy sector. Businesses need workers with both acute technical skills and advanced research degrees. In south central Wisconsin, Madison Area Technical College (MATC) has led the creation of an exemplary program that allows entrée into a host of green occupations through the model Consortium for Education in Renewable Energy Technologies (CERET).
In 2005, MATC formed CERET with Oakland Community College (MI), the University of Wisconsin, industry giant Solar Energy International, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, and other stakeholders. CERET addressed three main objectives:
The consortium sought to create a wide-ranging training service offering to mirror the region's green-industry potential. Each partner brought elements of a curriculum and/or fully developed renewable energies education and training content along with trained instructors. Led by MATC, CERET created a unique joint commitment to freely share training models, content, and instructors. MATC facilitated the group, established shared content, and designed a credit certificate in renewable energy technology.
Critical to CERET's success was the decision to deliver all coursework online. In addition to meeting its access goal, the CERET program enables other colleges to adopt this curriculum in total or use some of its courses to test their own local markets without the usual upfront cost of course development.
Barbara Anderegg, a member of the planning group and a program instructor, groups online course sessions to attract two distinct audiences based on their previous experience. Students in what she calls the "entrepreneurial" group are already professionals such as workers in the building trades, electromechanical technicians such as auto industry workers, energy service and products sales managers, and others who need to update and incorporate green industry knowledge and practices into their businesses. The second group could be called the "newbies," who have no previous relevant experience or profession. They often are advised to use the CERET program as the entry point to earning the A.A.S. degree in renewable energies technology.
The certificate program, which requires a minimum of 12 credit hours, encourages participants to customize their learning experiences by selecting from a rich array of elective courses that emphasize wind, solar, biofuels, hybrid electric vehicles, biomass, or energy management and efficiencies. The program is designed for maximum flexibility, allowing students to cherry-pick courses to fill in professional skills gaps or focus on specific areas of interest.
To learn more about MATC’s CERET program, please visit http://www.ceret.us/
Barbara Anderegg, Instructor and Co-Principle Investigator