Research Conducted by Associate Professor, Kevin Grosskopf

Retooling Recession Displaced Workers for Green Jobs

More than 8 million U.S. jobs were lost during ‘The Great Recession’, pushing unemployment from 4.4% in 2007 to 10.2% in 2009. Nearly half of all job losses occurred among lower-skilled workers in construction and manufacturing industries. During this same period, however, jobs in energy efficiency and renewable energy industries grew an unprecedented 9%.

As part of a $1.3M grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, The Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction has completed development of a workforce transition program to ‘retool’ recession displaced workers for career opportunities in new and emerging green industries. To date, the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) of recession displaced ‘blue collar’ workers have been assessed in relation to the skill sets required of ‘green collar’ workers in building-related industries as determined by a survey of more than 6,000 businesses. Using this data, a two-tier STEM curriculum was then developed to 1) address common pre-vocational skills training needed for the unskilled and unemployed, and 2) vocational skills training for the semi-skilled and underemployed that has created sustained (re)employment for 1,000 Midwest workers.

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