Legat Architects’ Vuk Vujovic participates in green job panel at Oakton Community College during Earth Week celebration
[Des Plaines, IL] – As the U.S. green economy grows, new sustainable products and technologies drive the need for rapid retraining of the existing workforce. How can professionals get the competitive edge that they need to excel?
This is one of the challenges that Vuk Vujovic, director of sustainability and energy at Legat Architects, explored with students at Oakton Community College’s “Finding a Path to a Fulfilling Green Career” Earth Week panel. Vujovic was joined by Todd Fingerman of Action Metal Recycling, Tyler Kirsh of Grainger, and Oakton Community College’s Sustainability Specialist Debra Kutska.
Vujovic said that in less than a decade, the green movement will trigger many occupations that are currently unavailable. The way to stay ahead of the curve, he said, is to show initiative, seek out training opportunities, and stay attuned to new trends.
Community Colleges, Technical Schools to the Rescue
Progressive higher education institutions are speedily transforming toward a more sustainability-based education model focused on emerging green jobs.
Vujovic points to two-year colleges and technical schools as a strong option providing more affordable and faster training options. Additionally, these institutions give students the opportunity to learn from professionals who are working with the latest green technologies every day.
The numbers bear that out: according to the American Association of Community Colleges, nearly 50% of all U.S. undergraduates are enrolled in community colleges.
Oakton Community College, located within a forest preserve comprising more than 170 acres, has made sustainability a priority with new academic offerings, prairie restoration, outdoor classrooms, and high-performance facilities.
Most recently, the Lee Center for Science and Health Careers achieved LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Signs throughout the facility teach students about its green features ranging from recycled wood to photovoltaic systems.
Technical schools are also contributing to the green workforce. IBEW NECA Technical Institute (IN-TECH) in Alsip, Illinois recently launched the first-of-its-kind Renewable Energy Training Field. Here future electricians can get hands-on experience with solar technologies, wind turbines, and advanced lighting.
Green’s Impact on Architecture
Vujovic also talked to Oakton students about the current and future effect of sustainability on the field of architecture and design.
“In the profession of architecture, it not just about designing ‘brick and mortar’ buildings anymore,” said Vujovic. “The emergence of the green economy has created many additional opportunities for architects to implement complex design programs and achieve superior sustainable solutions for their clients. Examples include greater interest in sustainable campus planning and integration of climate action plans.”
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