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Better Buildings Accelerator Update: Advancing Workforce Development Through K-12 Engagement

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Jun 14, 2022

More than 40 organizations are partnering with DOE as part of the Better Buildings Workforce Accelerator, committing to enhance the energy efficiency workforce by cultivating interest, facilitating pathways, and improving skills. These organizations are working to create a workforce that is well-equipped for the transition to a high-performing U.S. building stock.

A recent workshop of Accelerator partners highlighted ways in which engagement with K-12 schools could advance the Accelerator’s goal of ensuring career pathways for a diverse and qualified building efficiency workforce. The workshop featured presentations from the U.S. Department of Education, American School Counselor Association, and Advance Career and Technical Education (CTE).

U.S. Department of Education

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Education presented their work supporting green building workforce development. One such program is Green Ribbon Schools, which highlights efforts by schools, districts, and post-secondary institutions to reduce environmental impacts, improve health and wellness, and teach effective sustainability education. The program provides recognition for exceptional programs and showcases best practices for schools across the country.

The Department of Education also supports workforce development through the national Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education. Their hands-on, applied learning program provides academic, technical, and job-readiness skills primarily for high school and community college students. In addition to distributing funding, the program also conducts national activities to help schools meet federally mandated requirements, supports innovation and research, and provides technical assistance.

American School Counselor Association

Representatives from the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) shared how they are supporting students through academic, career, and social-emotional development. School counselors typically work with students to identify interests, abilities, relevant career clusters, and post-secondary plans. They also connect students with learning and experiential opportunities such as internships, apprenticeships, and job shadowing. ASCA noted interest in increasing engagement with industry leaders who can show students real-world career options, such as Better Buildings partners.

Advance Career and Technical Education

Advance CTE supports career technical education programs across the country, including through the National Career Clusters Framework. The organization works with states to develop programs that prepare learners for careers while establishing widely applicable skillsets. In recent years, Advance CTE has recognized how the changing nature of work and the workforce is placing greater emphasis on digitization and sustainability – common issues in preparing the next generation of building-related workers.

DOE’s Better Buildings Workforce Accelerator has synthesized many of these resources and best practices into a K-12 Resource and Factsheet to further help schools connect students with workforce opportunities.

Stay up to date on the Workforce Accelerator’s progress by visiting the Workforce Accelerator page. For more workforce development resources and information, visit the Better Buildings Workforce Development Portal