August 1, 2018 by Ed Coghlan
VIDEO: Automation Means Opportunity for California Community Colleges
California's community colleges are creating opportunities for an automation workforce. And it was a topic that drew community college educators in electrical, mechanical, construction, engineering and architectural disciplines to Folsom this summer.
More workers with automation skills are needed in Energy, Manufacturing, Transportation, Logistics, and Information Technology sectors to deal with explosive growth in Advanced Internet of Things systems. Industry projections show global connections of intelligent sensors, controllers, and data collection devices growing from 23 billion in 2018 to 75 billion in 2025. The workforce needs to undergo significant growth and change to install, operate, and maintain these devices.
For Jim Caldwell, the Sector Navigator for Energy Efficiency and Utility for the California Community Colleges, it was an event designed to share knowledge on the impact of automation in the industry—a factor that will eliminate some jobs and create many others. The energy efficiency policies the state has implemented literally is the changing face of industry and, importantly, what workers need to know in order to thrive.
And don't think of the demand as something that is happening in the future.
Architect Gregg Ander emphasized that "we need trained people on the street now" and that the gathering Folsom was an important knowledge sharing event.
Martha Brook, who advises the California Energy Commission, underscored the importance getting workers better trained. "Everything we do to really try to save energy in buildings and in industries and in people's homes really looks good on paper, but it doesn't actually get accomplished without really good education across the labor force," said Brook.
Caldwell and his team are collaborating with other sector teams – Manufacturing, Transportation and Logistics, and Information Technology - in creating Career Education programs that reflect the rapidly changing character of work.
Two educators on the front line—Danielle Robinson, a Sustainability Fellow at the College of Marin and Von Lawson, CTE Dean at Santiago College—agreed that their schools (and others) are addressing both short-term and long-term industry demands by training workers for this changing sector to help industry and most importantly help many students achieve the California dream.