"A green job is any job that makes communities healthier."
Jen Ball, a professor in Humber's Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Innovative Learning, says that sustainable careers are everywhere – and there's a growing need for workers with a sustainability mindset.
In response, Humber's General Arts & Sciences pathways programs will launch a new sustainability stream, which GAS students can select starting Fall 2021.
This stream and the specialization levels offer students the chance to build their foundational knowledge of social equity and sustainability while earning transfer credits and gaining exposure to green careers and the educational paths needed to secure a job in this sector. "Green jobs aren't just solar panels and salamanders. They can include social and community support work, education, arts and culture," she said.
Green jobs require specialized workers, but the industry has identified several skills crucial to success in the sector, like communication, strategic thinking, collaboration and self-management.
According to Environmental Careers Organization (ECO) Canada, Ontario has more than 90,000 green sector workers and growing. The organization predicts critical worker shortages of conservation workers, life science professionals, utilities and equipment operators, landscape architects and more.
GAS also offers a sustainability specialization, which has two levels based on extra-curricular engagement. Students can participate in the specialization activities outside of the classroom to earn a Humber Sustainability Commendation.
"Humber has strong connections to industry and community, and our pathways to post-secondary programs, such as General Arts and Science with the Sustainability Stream and Specializations, marry those pieces together. Those connections are so important to students pursuing work in green and social sector jobs," said April-Dawn Blackwell, associate dean, Pathways.
One step ahead
Humber College has nine foundations and pathways programs, which help students build skills to succeed in post-secondary.
The courses in the programs allow students to explore and learn in a college environment to advance to their next program to achieve their career goals.
"Pathways programs are critical. Students come to us from so many different situations, and we offer programs and supports to help them," said Michelle Jordan, GAS program coordinator.
Some students enrol in pathways programs because they aren't quite ready for college or university, or they aren't sure which career to pursue. Often, they will attend GAS, obtain transfer credits and then enrol in their career-focused full-time post-secondary program, already one step ahead.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic erupted and caused mass layoffs, pathways have become especially important, and the new Sustainability Stream especially timely.
"People have done some deep thinking about what they want to offer the world. Young people are telling us they have anxiety about the state of the planet. They worry about the future and have grief over lost opportunities," said Ball, whose students have been affected deeply by the pandemic.
"You can take anxiety and turn it into passion. We allow students to channel that anxiety into action."
Students in the new Sustainability Stream or Specialization levels can expect outdoor learning and a focus on Indigenous Ways of Being, Knowing and Doing. They will also be connected to campus resources like the Social Impact opportunities and discussions, Office of Sustainability and the Humber Arboretum and Centre for Urban Ecology.
To learn more about Humber's General Arts & Sciences programs and how to start on your journey to positive social and environmental impact, click here.