Colleges often talk to local companies to gauge their future workforce needs, searching for opportunities to build new programs to help fill the gaps and attract students amid a competitive higher-ed market.The latest focus has been on the state’s energy industry, as evidenced by new degree programs at Farmington’s Tunxis Community College and Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven.
The fledgling programs, which each have their own niche and were designed based on discussions with utilities, energy companies, business associations and others, were created because of a perceived growing demand for energy efficiency and concerns that companies won’t be able to find enough qualified replacements for an aging workforce. Besides traditional college-age students, both schools’ programs are also targeting continuing education for those already working in the industry.
“We can always use good people who are well trained in this area,” said Dave Bebrin, a senior engineer at Eversource who teaches part-time in the Tunxis program. “I don’t think there’s a lot of training around the energy-efficiency area.”