If the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has taught us anything, it's that we're hopelessly unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with the threat that we pose to our own environment. The lack of a fail-safe response to this problem is a symptom of our communal tendency to put environmental concerns on the back burner-a malady as present in IT as anywhere.
The cure for this malady, like so many others, lies in educating people so that problems can either be prevented, or quickly and effectively addressed when they arise. In the IT sphere, we're inundated with green IT pitches from vendors, and we sit through the requisite green presentation at just about every IT conference we attend. But has any of that truly prepared the IT profession to tackle the formidable environmental challenges that confront us?
According to the recently released findings of a March study commissioned by the Career College Association (CCA), there will be a growing demand for workers with green expertise, but few people are receiving the education they need to prepare for those jobs:
Nearly 94 percent of American adults believe people would be at least somewhat likely to consider pursuing green-related education if the federal government were to provide a financial incentive; however, only one percent have already obtained or are obtaining education for green jobs. The national survey found that more than 70 percent of American adults are familiar with the idea of green jobs. However, a much smaller percentage have seized on the numerous opportunities presented in the field today.
The president of CCA is Harris Miller, best known to IT professionals as the former president of the Information Technology Association of America. In his CCA role, Miller is an advocate for green education:
Green jobs can be the wave of the future, but for our country to achieve that goal, we must educate the workforce about green job prospects and the training needed to break into this field.
The problem in the IT realm is that opportunities for green education and training are nascent at best. True, positive steps have been taken. Among them:
No doubt, other baby steps can be cited. But we have yet to build into the framework of our education system's IT degree infrastructure a focus on the environment that would not only concentrate on conserving energy and natural resources, but enable the IT profession to help develop fail-safe plans to prevent, and effective measures to deal with, catastrophes like the massive destruction of the Gulf of Mexico's ecosystem. Until that changes, IT will continue to sit by as helplessly as everyone else and watch our environment die.