Green Skills Network Career College (Finalist)

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Community Rating


The Green Skills Network seeks to become the first cooperatively owned career college in Ontario, operating across the province and serving more than 1,000 students per year.

The Green Skills Network trains people for careers in the ever-expanding green economy. As the green economy grows, it rapidly creates varied labour openings that require training. We close the employment gap in these sectors by providing responsive, mobile, hands-on training.

Contestant organization: 
First Work: The Ontario Association of Youth Employment Centres
Venture partners: 

Venture partners will be contributing to recruitment, job development, curriculum development and training delivery. They are as follows:

  1. 70 Youth Employment Centres across Ontario who are current members of our Association
  2. Private and public trainers across Ontario
Describe your venture: 

The Green Skills Network seeks to become the first cooperatively owned career college in Ontario, operating across the province and serving more than 1,000 students per year.

The Green Skills Network trains people for careers in the ever-expanding green economy. As the green economy grows, it rapidly creates varied labour openings that require training. We close the employment gap in these sectors by providing responsive, mobile, hands-on training.

We have close relationships with over 70 employment centres across the province, all of whom gain access to or administer government employment training support programs on behalf of their 100,000+ clients. We have also developed a network of industry-based and public training partners. By creating a cooperative structure, we aim to leverage these relationships and create a win-win-win relationship between ourselves, the employment centres, and trainees.

The Green Skills Network Career College possesses unique characteristics that distinguish us from other colleges offering courses in green skills training. These distinctive features are as follows:


Our connections with public and private trainers across the province enable us to offer our courses in any location where there is demand and therefore reach a wider audience. Unlike traditional career colleges, our mobility allows us to deliver courses to students without them having to relocate or travel too far to attend. Additionally, our existing direct connections to on-the-ground business-development staff teams in 70 communities across Ontario will further contribute to successfully delivering courses across the province.

Low Start-Up, Capital and Operational Costs

The decentralized nature of our college means that we will not be weighed down by expensive building maintenance and rental costs. To deliver our courses, we will rent space on a short-term basis in partnership with local partners with access to low-cost, highly effective training spaces. With regard to start-up costs, the Green Skills Network has already begun to build its image and generate excitement by offering over a dozen pilot trainings. Through our local connections with communities across Ontario we will be able to broaden our services and our brand with minimal costs.

Responsive Focus

Our courses are designed to keep pace with labour market shifts. We have so far developed courses in solar panel installation and conservation retrofitting as research has indicated that these jobs will be especially high in demand. We will expand to new areas as the labour market continues to change and new sectors emerge, and will do so ahead of provincial policy changes. Our local partners are connected to municipal business development offices and are members of boards of trade, commerce etc. and so are aware of labour market demands as soon as they happen. Additionally, we also keep pace with the demands of our students. For example, we have two curriculums developed for solar panel installation; one is more basic while the other more advanced. The advanced curriculum was designed to respond to a group of previous students who already had skills in electrical work and therefore required more advanced skill development.

Connections to Subsidies and Supports

Our existing direct connections to government-supported training subsidies and supports for all levels of government and for all ages of potential students, will allow for greater access to our courses.

Connections to Employers

Our existing connections to networks of thousands of employers in all economic sectors, including expanding green sectors, across Ontario will improve employment results for our students.

Ability to Withstand Changes in Government Policy

The Green Skills Network Career College will be one of two streams of a broader First Work Career College. First Work will also offer other professional development courses for career counsellors and job developers. One such example is the Job Developers Institute, which has already established itself as a reputable course with over 150 graduates (see for more details). By offering a variety of courses that are not dependent on government policy, we are ensuring that the career college can continue to be viable during as green jobs growth ebbs and flows.

These unique positions are what make our approach innovative. Since emerging green sectors change over the years, and exhibit shifting regional strengths, sometimes in response to government policy and sometimes in response to consumer or commercial trends, our training program needs to be extremely adaptable. Since green sectors often require large geographic areas to be viable, and because so much energy and environmental policy is set on a provincial basis, we have innovatively brought together a province-wide network. And since we already have a well-developed network of thousands of employer contacts across Ontario, we have innovatively focused this asset on the challenge of supporting green economic activity.

The Green Skills network has two completely developed sets of curricula, and has gained considerable experience by implementing over a dozen training sessions. These trainings have resulted in 150 Green Skills Network graduates. With these pilots complete, we are ready to expand our offerings and provide the courses to students for a fee.

Emissions reduction potential: 

As Ontario seeks to advance emission reductions, there will be a higher demand for energy conservation and efficiency through retrofitting and renewable energy use. This will increase demand for the manufactured goods, highly trained technicians and general trained labourers that support these activities. The Green Skills Network contributes to this increased need by providing courses in entry-level green skills, where graduates can pursue employment in clean energy and fill labourer positions, and work towards meeting the demand for renewable energies. As the demand is met, emissions will be reduced.

The potential impact of the Green Skills Network to support emission reduction in the GTA and throughout Ontario is clear. The Green Skills Network will reduce emissions indirectly; the potential impacts come from supporting the solar PV and conservation retrofit industries by enabling them to grow by providing trained employee candidates. This will in turn lead to more renewable energy and conservation projects completed. It will also contribute to training the next generation of installers and retrofitters in the future workforce. The emission reduction impact of the Green Skills Network will be felt in the short term by allowing emission reduction companies to grow faster by hiring trained employees.

The team: 

Matt Wood, First Work, Executive Director

Matt Wood is the Executive Director of First Work, which supports a sustainable youth employment network in Ontario. He is the founder of two social enterprises. Evidence Research and Evaluation and Hire Prospects, the youth survey outreach service. Evidence has contributed to the organizational development of over 40 non-profit organizations and private foundations. Hire Prospects has completed 5 provincial and national research projects. Matt has served advisory roles with the Ontario Ministries of Education, Labour and Training, Colleges and Universities. He was Vice-Chair of the National Voluntary Sector Advisory Committee on Employment for Service Canada. He sat on the Board of Directors for Voices for Children, an organization advocating on behalf of children. He advises the National organizing committee for the CANNEXUS employment counselling conference and has been on the Contact Point board. Matt has an M.E.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo where he studied models of youth engagement. Previously, Matt worked in senior youth program management positions at the YMCA of Greater Toronto. Matt has been a consultant with the Ministry of Citizenship Culture and Recreation, as well as the Laidlaw Foundation's Youth Recreation Program.

Employment Centres across Ontario (First Work members)

First Work member centres are dedicated to delivering accessible, high quality, outcomes-based employment services to their clients to assist them in reaching their employment and life goals. Each centre has substantial experience in connecting with new employers in a variety of industries, and working with them to place clients in temporary or permanent work placements or positions. Employment centres offer a variety of services to their clients, including job coaching and retention strategies. 15 member centres have already participated in Green Skills Network projects and have expressed a strong interest in further participation.

For more information, please visit

Private and Public Trainers across Ontario

First Work subcontracts both private and public trainers to deliver our green skills courses, all of whom have extensive experience in curriculum development and course delivery. Previous course evaluations show that participants have interacted positively with all of our trainers. Previous trainers include Interect inc,ConestogaCollege,NiagaraCollege, St. Lawrence College, 3e Solutions, and Housing Services Incorporated. 

Seeking collaborators: 
Potential collaborators should contact : 
Justine Katz at
How will you ensure your project is self supporting within five years?: 

The Green Skills Network has a comprehensive 80-page business plan that is currently under review. For more information or a copy of the executive summary, please contact

The Network has generated its operational revenue in its first year primarily from grants and seed money. Organizational development and start-up challenges have already been addressed through pilot projects – we have completed curriculum review, training development, evaluation and knowledge transfer that have validated our assumptions and set the groundwork for the Network to be fully operational. Once fully established, revenue will be generated primarily from student fees.

Our target for year 5 sales is to deliver 120 3-day training courses per year across Ontario through 60 of our partners, for an estimated net of 6% per year on revenue of $855,000 per year. Full financial estimates have been developed as part of our business planning process.

Access to government training supports such as Employment Ontario, Second Career, Individual Skills Enhancement, Ontario Works and OSAP drives the Network’s marketing to attract students. Connection to government training subsidies will provide a base of 20% of our participants and 20% of our revenue on which to build. With our existing network consisting of seventy (70) employment centres that see over 120,000 clients through their doors annually, the Green Skills Network will recruit the equivalent of 1 percent per year of its networks clientele or approximately 1200 students (in year 5). Student fees will be set to align with government programs, and be competitive with similar offerings, while our narrow emphasis on entry-level employment ready training will contribute to our long-term reputation and brand recognition.

We are certain that the demand for jobs is there to sustain a well focused green career college initiative. For example, just within our initial training focus of solar panel installation and conservation retrofitting, the rapid growth of these sectors will require between 3000-4500 laborers be deployed across Ontario alone.

This initiative is structured in its start-up phase as a department of First Work, using First Work’s office space, the Executive Director’s oversight and strategic decision making, and the First Work Board accountability structure. A staff team of 3, including a coordinator responsible for all service delivery, a Marketing and Sales Coordinator to manage the creative and administrative aspects and a Research and Dissemination Coordinator to manage value added and sharing to stakeholders of the Green Skills Network. The Network will be accountable to the Board of First Work and will utilize a knowledgeable and diverse advisory committee. With support from the climate spark initiative and others, these groups will review the Network in year three to determine what options (spin off, cooperative, etc.) are most appropriate at that time. We feel a cooperative structure of a licensed career college is the most likely final form the initiative will take.

The recommendations made concerning the Green Skills Network market viability, business model, financial model and management structure are based on an analysis of the assets available and attainable. Ultimately, full operation of the Network is dependent on initial funding from grants, loans and/or investments. First Work has available the right assets and organizational capacity to successfully implement the Green Skills Network and will turn funding received into positive returns.


astecher's picture

This proposal addresses the most pressing need in our quest for a sustainable economic future: The shortage of skilled workers to build up the capacity to meet our energy demands. 

trees's picture

i think that the amount of people your collage would graduate evry year isnt enofe to make a real differance in the world. also you need to be more clear on exactly what your people would be able to do. what skills they would have. how would they be able to contribute to the worlds economy.  but a good idea

Green Skills Network's picture

Thank you for your comment, trees. 

I'd like to share the following report with you:

The report states that in order to meet the targets of Ontario's Long-Term Energy Plan, approximiately 3,000 MW of solar PV needs to be installed between 2008-2018. An estimated 75,000 jobs will be required to achieve this target. The Green Skills Network will build the workforce needed to obtain these jobs. Graduates of our courses can make a difference in Ontario's green economy.

Upon completion of our solar panel installation course, students will be able to assist in the installation of solar PV panels. They will be understand the requirements for roofing systems, and identify the preferred structural attachments and weather sealing methods for PV arrays affixed to different types of roof compositions and coverings, and will be able to identify common ways PV arrays are mechanically secured and installed on the ground, to building rooftops, or other structures.

jordie_leggett's picture

As a partner member of the Green Skills Network i have had first hand experience working with their programs.

I have seen the impact on both the youth and on the community and it has been completely positive.

Green Skills Network is an organization with a strong vision and sound business model. If allowed to grow this organization can have a strong impact on the green economy and educating/training our youth.

Michelle Haddad's picture

I work for First Work and have some experience in the area of coordinating green job fairs in Ontario. I found that the youth who attended the fairs seemed very enthusiastic about finding employment in the green economy. I think  the Green Skills Network Career College will help to prepare youth for green jobs which will in turn support Toronto and Canada's transition to a greener economy.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Some more information about how you plan to organize courses in various locations would strengthen your proposal.

Green Skills Network's picture

Thanks for your comment Michelle. We will work in partnership with First Work's member employment centres as well as local trainers to organize the courses in various locations. Each partner will have specific responsbilities in coordinating and delivering the courses, which will be a outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding and signed by all parties involved. 

ebrian's picture

I think there are some great ideas here but I'm just wondering why does it have to be a co-op?  It seems to me that setting up a cooperatively owned business is incredibly ambitious, and would require more effort than is really needed here.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Explain the benefits of making this a cooperatively owned business.

Matt Wood's picture

Thanks for your question ebrian. First Work already operates as a charitable, non-profit association with a full set of decision-making by-laws and board governance rules. So in this sense, we have already incorporated many elements of being a cooperative.

Also, the 70 local partners we have need to buy-in fully (and several dozen already have) as the project will likely involve revenue sharing and direct referral of clients. To take advantage of the assets we already have, we need to maintain the 'cooperative' nature of our work. If we were to develop a new organization (a for-profit) we might have to build relationships with our partners from square one.

Thanks for the interest.

Zell's picture

It is a wonderful organization that you have built Matt with many great partnerships. It is imperative that we train people and get them ready for all the green jobs that will arise from our sustainable aprroaches to growing new industry.



How could this proposal be improved?: 

How will you build a metrics system for your co-operative employment model and allow for the growth of apprenticeships.

If we are able to let people learn and earn we can allow for more funds to move through the economy.


Matt Wood's picture

Thanks for your question Zell. We are very concerned about program monitoring and evaluation which is why we use our program evaluation department (see for all our initiatives. We will use their professional expertise to develop monitoring and evaluation regime that will help us constantly improve, especially as it relates to participant training and employment outcomes. (I think this is what you mean by Metrics)

Regarding apprenticeships, if you mean that word technically, then you are referring to a formal training regime regulated by the province. We will likely operate on the perifery of 'apprenticeship' system, working in 'pre-apprenticeship' or 'supplemental' areas as these are where the entry-level and emerging (i.e. unregulated) opportunities exist. As well, public colleges and union-based training institutions typically provide apprenticeship training, so this area of the training business is more crowded.

Learning while earning is absolutely an important part of our course targeting and design strategy as it lets more people into the workforce and draws more people toward the green light.

mrashi21's picture

This proposal is the best way to implement and will be able to get optimum

How could this proposal be improved?: 

This proposal can be improved just establish more and more institutes to train on students on regular basis and at least have some contribution by the Government for sucess.

Green Skills Network's picture

Hello Climate Sparkers!

Based on the feedback that we received in Round 1, we have made some changes to our proposal for clarity and to highlight certain features of our social venture. We thank you for all of your comments and questions, and we hope that you will continue to provide us with valuable feedback.


The Green Skills Network Team

daniel.adler's picture

It's just hands-down the best.

juliem's picture

Strengths - Partnership with Youth Employment Centres and connection to governmentt subsides and supports

keaton61's picture

Innovative strategy to engage young people in emerging technologies that will help ensure active participation in the labour force for participants. Very exciting, since youth employment remains a tremendous problem for our society and young people represent our future. Also, supporting the development of a skilled "green workforce" will obviously impact our climate but also lead to green investment since skilled workers will be available. Excellent!

marilynrd's picture

The pan-Ontario capacity of the project is a strength.  The promotion of course work and skills acquistion for  green collar work will meet a definite training need.

carajane's picture

I like how adaptable this proposal is. I think especially in this economical and political climate you have to be prepared to partner and collaborate and this model provides uniques opportunities for regional participation and learning.

I would like to see some ways in which the general public could benefit from the training, and possibly pair the trained professionals with home owners or busniesses, not just potential employers. As a new home owner, green technology is on my radar but I'd like to be able learn about it and how I can apply it at a more independant level.

XLeveille's picture

Fantastic proposal that operates under an banner of adaptability and sustainability.

tulipgirl's picture

Green Skills Network is a great organization with innovative strategies. The idea of career college fulfill the needs of all youths while spreading out the idea of Green Economy.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

It would be even more helpful if training programs are provided for recent college or university graduate who do not have experience in the real job market.

ashleydrake85's picture

I love that this propsal addresses the shortage of skilled workers and the lack of current opportunities to become a skilled worker.

Barb's picture

With local partners, connections to local labour markets. curriculum, and prospective students, this project can be up and running very quickly and expanded to meet demand.

astauch's picture

The proposal addresses a significant need in Ontario, we need workers in the green sector. The Green Energy Act has driven the development of renewable energy sources in Ontario, however the workforce is not there. The Green Skills Network is uniquely suited to establish this program, and have the partnership across the province to make it successful. Through a career college in the green energy sector the Green Skills Network can address this labour shortage, and help young people get good jobs.

Mike's picture

By getting buy-in from all the players, everyone gains.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Since you are ahead of the curve in providing training that others do not, why not link to other education institutions and offer courses through them?

KarenL's picture

We are seeing many jobs related to green energy staying unfilled. This proposal is a good way to fill some of those gaps. We know that Ontario is losing jobs in manufacturing and this project trains youth looking for satisfying work and good jobs.

Zell's picture

The strengths of the proposal line in the expertise and the endorsements that Green Heroes have.

They have TVO onboard and many other groups.

It would be great to have "real" television for kids, versus more cartoons. 

mjanes's picture

Anticipating the current and future need for training in green tech and industries this project is a great step.  Working with the existing network of training providers and tailoring programs to work with government is very practical. 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Starting with 3 day courses and building up is a good idea.  Partnering with educational institutions for longer more extended courses seems like a natural future step once the project is established.

CarissaCosgrove's picture

This is an excellent means of providing localized training, in targeted markets, as the economy requires. The skills and experience brought by First Work, and their dedication to partnering with a wide variety of organizations to achieve their goals make this a winning plan. What a green idea! 

janam's picture

This project has benefits for green economy as well as youth employment. Utilizing the provincial network of local employment centres will make it very cost-effective and accessible.

surajreddy's picture

This would definitely impact the future by enabling students to take a degree in this field.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

What's your timeline?

Green Skills Network's picture

Thank you for your interest, surajreddy.

We will begin delivering courses in March/April 2012, which is optimal hiring time for solar panel installation and retrofit work. Our goal is to deliver 20 courses in 2012, for a total of 200 students.  

hart's picture

Youth employment is a real concern these days. I it can be combined with environment friendly goals then that would be great.

clang's picture

I have participated on the Steering Committee for this initiative and have witnessed the development of the vision from concept to pilot phase to the bold proposal presented here. I appreciate the work that has gone into each phase to date.

This plan appears to make the best use of many of the assets of the youth employment sector and First Work and addresses a triple bottom line in its outcomes of youth employment, supplying the demand for green work skills in the marketplace, and positive environmental impact. It also has a unique angle in supporting the network of youth employment centres to continue to do their work through a co-operative social enterprise/revenue generation model. 

There will need to be further feasibility work done in year 2-3 on the enterprise structure, yet the co-operative model is an interesting one to consider and I support this exploration. If incorporated as a co-operative, the enterprise would take its place among a mature system of co-ops in Ontario, and a growing number of co-operatives committed to sustainability.


How could this proposal be improved?: 

I would like to see some consideration of gender in the proposal. It would be great to see more young women encouraged to take their place as employees in their growing green skills sector.

mrashi21's picture

Yes, the strength is there for sure will take some to be successful

Green Skills Network's picture

Thank you for the support, Cathy!

In almost all of the courses that we have delivered so far, there has been at least one female participant per group. I agree with you that it would be great to see more women engaged in our courses, and we have had a couple of discussions about how we could do this. One strategy we have thought of is to partner with an organization such as YWCA to deliver courses for women only. Additonally, as we work on our marketing materials we will make sure that our advertising is appropriate for both women and men. 

Thanks again for your feedback!

mrashi21's picture

The idea about "Green Work Force" is the process of crossfucntional frame work, where every individual,organization  should contribute its efforts to make it successful.Ontario Government ,Profit and non profit organzation should intrude some finance to establish some green work force who must have the training from professional technical school. The contribution should be make by our society to establish such types of institutions,which has research based programes based on only idea generation and innovation.

The outcome of these institutes  will come into play may be after one decade in the form of proper professional which they will go into the market and results the effectiveness of the idea. Onatrio Government already launch the plateform to take off now its society's responsibilities which include profit and non-profit organization to start work on environmental issues to secure some thing for the future generations.


How could this proposal be improved?: 


Statis shows that Canada's retirement level will increase after some years. So, as of now we should start hire youth (Greent Work Force) to work with some compensation.Once they will able to meet the requirement than just introduce into the market  that will be helpful to meet the desire results.

080808's picture

Giving people the skills and tools to make a change is the corner stone to eco-consciousness.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

A moderated “open-source” educational model could enhance the students learning experience.  Can be used both as supplementary learning and marketing tool for attracting full time students.

apadam's picture

Yeah it is an important achievement in advancing people more proffessional and caring for the nature as it have a positive enrollment of the youth who are intrested in green revolution and will create civilized citizens and awarness for the need of ecosystem.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

This could be improved by concenterating more on these colleges by the government and initiating enrollment  of students 

pparhar's picture

This proposal gives new opportunities in the growing green economy.It employs more of  youth,gives suitable sustainability training, and disparate employment includes renewable energy and energy conservation sector jobs.It works for the benefir of environment as well as society.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

I think that this proposal should link with more number of educational instittions and offer ceratin programs on green skill workers with specialized training.Also,I would like to recommend the role of women in today's era for thsi proposal which is indipensable.

apate331's picture

I really feel this is a wonderful idea.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

According to my opinion i think that this should come as a compulsary subject to all the next comming generation will be ready to help the environment by their skills which they will get from their subject of green.

m11's picture

It is a great opportunity for the youth who are unemployed and ultimately saving the environment. It not only gives employment but also gives them learning experience along with environment preservation. It helps us to save our resources for future generations.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Effective planning of  the courses in desired location will lead the proposal to its success. Educational model should be well enhanced. We can start some programs to attract youth of today to deal with environmental issues arising today.This will lead to overall development of society. 

Rob McMonagle's picture

This is an interesting proposal and it's in an area (green job training) where there are capacity issues.  However a number of items need to be addressed to make the proposed training offered by the Green Skills Network valuable for the students and for potential employers.  Let's use solar training as an example (but it's equally valid for other green job specialities).

While there is a large demand for skilled solar installers due to the FiT program – employers are looking for workers that have gone through an accredited training program and have a certificate of competency.

Accreditation of the training program is a way of providing assurance (to both the students and the companies who are hiring) that the training meets established industry minimum skill competencies.  For example the North American Board of Certified Energy Installers (NABCEP) - - has established a skills assessment for solar installers training.  EcoCanada - - is the sector training council for the environmental industries in Canada.

Accreditation of the training agency is a way of providing assurances that the program follows established skill testing protocols to insure that the "graduates" have actually passed the training requirements. The Institute for Sustainable Power - – is one such accreditation program.

Certification of the students (once they graduate) is a way of providing assurance that they have the competencies established by the training program.  A college certificate (from an accredited college) provides confidence that the graduates are qualified.  NABCEP, for example, provides a certification process for solar installers.

So my questions are:

1. How will you insure that the teachers of the training programs have the skills necessary to teach the students?

2. How will the course content be developed and will they use skill competencies established by the green sector industries?

3. What sort of accreditation process will the Green Skills Network go through to provide customers (students and employers) quality assurance?

4. What sort of accredited certification will you provide to students who graduate from your courses?

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Partnering with existing education or labour force organizations will provide much needed quality assurance to this proposal.

Trade unions offer skills upgrading training to their members.  For example the electricians union offers CSA certified PV training to union members.  However the trades are experiencing severe shortages of new people entering their trades.  This might be a good opportunity to link in potential new workers into the trades.

Colleges are looking at opportunities to outreach beyond their traditional areas and might welcome the opportunity to partner with local organizations that can deliver training far from their traditional campuses.

Green Skills Network's picture

Thanks for your questions and suggestions. 

In regard to course content, we have based the learning objectives of our Solar PV installation course on  NABCEP’s objectives. Our curriculum has been reviewed by a professional curriculum designer, an employment consultant, and a solar PV installation trainer and employer to ensure that the quality of our course is appropriate. We will continue to monitor industry standards as we expand our course selection.

To ensure that our customers receive quality assurance, we will register as a private career college with MTCU and will have all of our programs approved by the Superintendent of Private Career Colleges. Once registered, we will follow the regulations of the Private Career Colleges Act, which can be found here:

Matt Wood's picture

Thanks for your questions. In addition to the specific examples of quality assurance we have used in the development of our Solar training (see reply from Green Skills Network) most of our trainers have formal positions with Public Colleges. The few that don't need to have minimum educations (i.e. BA or licensing in the subject) as set out in the private career colleges legislation.

As well, we will be using and improving a program evaluation regime which will give us and our trainers constant feedback on their effectiveness and room for improvement.

We also maintain open communication with the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities. Through discussion with them we adjusted the name of our pilot course to be "solar panel installation assistant" which was a satisfactory way of denoting introductory training without reaching into fields where we had not developed expertise (i.e. licensed electricians work). We have found that introductory "pre-apprenticeship" approaches are very useful in attracting and exposing new entrants into a given field of employment without the technical burden of higher credentials for trainers.

rmehta16's picture

Green skills project is a very good project and hope this project works efficiently on saving the environment as the main issue today is to save environment. 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

They should improve more creative course that should attract students towards joining this course as this is a new course and jo opportunities are not that good. They should come up with something that would attract the students in participating this course

r15's picture

Its a great and unique idea. Green skill network would attract the potential youth and green lover. On the same hand, it would create awareness towards saving environment. Training future generation would provide skilled youth and increased efforts towards saving environment. Today our great concern is global warming and unemployment. so this unique and innovative approach would beneficial to all of us.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

More effectiveness of this programme can be improved by creating more awareness among society and this chance should be provided to right and interested candidate who are keen to make career in this field. Extra efforts like providing scholarship to talented students and more creative schemes would definitely attract more young generation to make career in this unique and different field.

Green Skills Network's picture

Thank you for your thoughts on our proposal.

I agree with you that more awareness is needed about the types of green jobs available and the courses that we are offering. We are currently involved in a research project to educate career counsellors and job developers about green jobs and training opportunities across Canada. This research will help youth employment professionals provide information to their clients about green job opportunities, and will refer interested individuals to our courses. 

I really like your idea about providing scholarships to students! That is definitely something that we could consider in the future. Do you have any other ideas about "creative schemes" to attract more people to green jobs?

nlogan5's picture

This is a great proposal, it has a great capacity and ability to be an excellent viable formal business. It involves the community, the environment and also filling a gap in the employment sector. The link can be definately seen between this venture and the broader community. The only weakness is that the link between reduing greenhouse emission gas is an indirect one and as such the results may not be seen as effective as a direct method of reducing emission.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Finding a way to market the course so that more persons can get involves thus at least having a greater impact on renewable energy use. Trying to get an accreditation if there is non already can boast this venture even to a higher level.

Green Skills Network's picture

Thank you for your feedback. I am glad that you highlighted the community involvement aspect of our proposal. We have found that having all stakeholders work together, such as trainers, youth employment centres, and green industry professionals, has led to very successfull programming. We hope to continue to engage all community members in our work. While we may be reducing greenhouse gas emissions in an indirect way, our graduates will play a very significant and necessary role in moving Toronto and Ontario forward with its clean energy objectives. 

I agree with you that we need to have a strong marketing strategy so that we can reach a wide audience. We are working in partnership with our stakeholders (trainers and employment centres) to improve upon our existing strategy. We would be interested in suggestions about how we can market appropriately.

In regard to accreditation, if you scroll up this page you can see our response to expert Rob McMonagle in response to his question on accredidation and certification.

Thanks again for your comments. 


spruthi's picture

The main idea today is to improve the environment. It has great potential in every business and will be useful to save environment. 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

better analysis and research can be used to improve this project.

JLanger's picture

Training to build knowledge, implementation capacity, champions is key to advancing almost all the emission reduction approaches.  Having dedicated 'green' training fills a need, and is increasingly being addressed by the colleges.  Is there competition or a specific niche for this project? 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

You mention the business plan is under review, but some key elements would help.  Specifically, the objective of 120 workshops a year is mentioned -- is that because that is the number required to be financially viable?  

Where do your trainers come from?  Is any of your program structured to be 'train the trainer'?   

Are there other, parallel examples of this type of venture elsewhere?  If so, would be interesting to learn a bit more about their trajectory, trials and successes, etc. 

Matt Wood's picture

Thanks for your comments JLanger.

There is a lot of competition in our starting field, the solar PV installation training field. We have reviewed several dozen organizations, some from non-profits, many from public colleges and several from the private sector (often solar equipment manufacturer-sponsored) and Unions. Our main interest was to establish what industry practice was and to position our trainings vis a vis pricing and content. Most of the training is from new organizations with limited reach who are expanding directly in relation to provincial energy policies. There is only one private career college devoted to this, and it takes a traditional bricks-and-mortar approach. So in terms of this specific training area (solar) and others, we see a niche / gaps in shorter-term, mobile, introductory training experiences.

The business plan target of 120 was set in order to provide for a financially viable scale of operation, as you suggest. We have also reflected on those numbers to ensure we will not run the risk of over-saturating any employment niches with graduates.

Our trainers to date have been from private industry and public colleges. We have subcontracted training to them, while we provided the curricula, and while we evaluated the learning experience and outcomes of the students. We will be developing training standards to help us meet legal requirements for career colleges and we will continue to hone our evaluation work to assure quality. We had not considered a train-the-trainer approach, since most of our subcontracted trainers have many years experience and organizational supports to be effective trainers already.

I would be interested in any other organizations to visit and borrow lessons from.

nsing124's picture

I really liked this proposal as it also linked with the sustainablity. Today we really need to save the environment and Go Green is the demand of this hour. 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

YOu need to work on more research on green technology and more analysis on market wil help your further growth

Green Skills Network's picture

Thank you for your feedback on our proposal!

We are currently working on a research project that is looking more closely at the labour market, not only in Ontario but Canada as a whole. Our research ends in the spring of 2012, which coincides with the launch of our courses. This research will give us insight as to which areas of green skills we should expand into. Once the research project is complete, we will still continue to monitor the labour market on an ongoing basis. Information on the research project can be found here:

Polarity's picture

This idea has legs. There are a lot of private colleges that make a good business

How could this proposal be improved?: 

I think you should look beyond just green training. You would get lots of students interested in green stuff but you might not achieve the kind of scale you want.

Slyfox's picture

I've heard lots of stories about private career colleges giving lousy experiences to students. It would be great if this one could break that bad rap.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

I'd like to see more numbers, but I guess 'the business plan is under review' covers about eveything. If this is about ahow viable a business is this is a good proposal.

080808's picture

Great point, as the course and accreditation may not amount to a hill of beans, especially if it’s a "fast tracking" program

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Affiliation with proven Collages and Universities may elevate the stigma of career colleges

573114's picture

Great proposal here...getting people more educated in order for them to become champions of the green movement.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

This might be better suited for a partnership with the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities - looking for partners in both public post-secondary institutions and private career colleges. You may want to look at the Trillium fund as well.

GreenHeroes's picture

The strength of this proposal lies in its visonary elements - looking torwards the interests and needs of young people as they wonder about how to participated in a changing economy.  How to reach young people with the potential of this Network is a challenge and perhaps a branding exercise and an infogrpahic around generating enthusiasm around this would be helpful.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Reaching audiences with the idea of a "Green Eduction" is an important consideration - also important would be qualified teachers and professors - the network might also include eco-journalism or the idea of actually learning how to communicate about sustainability.  The great master of this kind of communication was the late Ray Anderson - please see this webisode. Also Interface, his company, would be a great case study for all the students to learn from.

GreenHeroes's picture

The strength of this proposal lies in its visonary elements - looking torwards the interests and needs of young people as they wonder about how to participated in a changing economy.  How to reach young people with the potential of this Network is a challenge and perhaps a branding exercise and an infogrpahic around generating enthusiasm around this would be helpful.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Reaching audiences with the idea of a "Green Eduction" is an important consideration - also important would be qualified teachers and professors - the network might also include eco-journalism or the idea of actually learning how to communicate about sustainability.  The great master of this kind of communication was the late Ray Anderson - please see this webisode. Also Interface, his company, would be a great case study for all the students to learn from.

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