Green Products from Green Manufacturing
Manufacturing is a very important component in the Illinois economy. A very diverse sector, it employs 10% of the workforce and accounts for close to 15% of the total state output. Many Illinois manufacturers are responding to both the economic opportunities created by the emerging green economy and the social benefits of demonstrating corporate social responsibility and stewardship.
What is referred to as “green manufacturing” is gaining traction with manufacturers in Illinois. Green manufacturing is:
- The manufacture of green products. This particularly applies to those used in renewable energy systems and clean technology equipment including solar panels, wind turbine components and hybrid cars.
- The greening of traditional manufacturing processes. Many Illinois companies are reducing pollution and waste by minimizing natural resource use, recycling and reusing what was once considered waste and reducing emissions. Manufacturers realize that what is good for the environment is good for their community and therefore makes good business sense.
Today, there is a lack of highly skilled workers to meet the needs of the growing green economy. Companies are looking for employees with the right skills, capabilities and education; this is equally true in manufacturing as it is in any other industry. Community colleges have a unique opportunity to not only fill this skills gap but also incorporate new green technology processes and content into their curricula.
What Illinois Community Colleges Are Doing:
Community colleges are the largest provider of technical workforce education and hands-on training. They are playing a critical role in:
- Educating young people to ensure a solid foundation of skills and abilities.
- Re-training workers with up-to-date skills to build resilient communities throughout the state.
- Developing internships, apprenticeships and new career pathways.
- Integrating principles of green manufacturing into existing courses, e.g. industrial maintenance.
- Utilizing resources from the MSSC (Manufacturing Skills Standard Council) to add green modules into existing programs.
- Purchasing state-of-the-art equipment and collaborating with manufacturing business partners in their districts.
In addition, Harper College is working with a group of 21 colleges from across the state as part of a grant from the Department of Labor to enhance curriculum and align it with nationally recognized credentials. To this end, they are purchasing state-of-the-art equipment and collaborating with manufacturing business partners in their districts.
Skilled workers are in demand to replace an aging workforce as well as meet the growing need for advanced manufacturing expertise. Manufacturing companies need skilled workers to design, monitor, and operate production systems that save energy, water, and other resources.