New Report Identifies Strategies to Train Workers for the Clean Energy Economy

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Washington, DC– A new report released today by a task force of leading energy workforce experts outlines a series of practical recommendations to prepare individuals for high skilled jobs in the electric sector. In the face of the very real challenge of developing a workforce that can transform our power sector to support a clean energy economy, the bipartisan task force—composed of experts from labor, the electric power industry and the training and educational sectors—recognized opportunities to train workers for new high-skill, high paying jobs in the energy sector, at a time when growing numbers of Americans are unemployed or underemployed.

The report details a number of practical steps that can be implemented to proactively deal with the projected long-term need for skilled workers in the electric sector.

  • Training the workforce of tomorrow. Funding for workforce training should be distributed through a peer-reviewed process, and should prioritize grant recipients that provide training towards industry-recognized credentials and training programs that can be replicated and shared. Additionally, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) should be reformed to allow for longer-term training, expand representation and promote regional workforce investment areas, and utilize youth services to create training pathways for students.
  • Improving data collection and performance metrics. The Department of Education should lead a task force to standardize Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) codes for the energy industry. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) should track data on energy workforce demand, ensure that energy-related classifications accurately reflect skill requirements, facilitate industry input into BLS forecasts, and build capacity for developing workforce scenarios and projections as a tool for analyzing legislative proposals.
  • Identifying training standards and best practices for energy sector jobs. Congress should direct the Department of Labor and the Department of Education to identify existing industry-recognized credentials, develop new credentials where gaps exist, and create a central repository for these credentials.
  • Funding individuals seeking energy sector-related training and education. Congress should consider developing a program to provide scholarships to individuals seek careers in energy-related technical and professional training, provide worker training tax credits to energy companies who support apprenticeships and internships, and streamline support for apprenticeships, technical certifications, and on-the-job training for veterans by combining the benefits of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill into one program.
  • Improving and revitalizing the education of future energy sector professionals. The Department of Labor has undertaken a number of initiatives to this end. Congress should continue to focus on the priorities outlined in the America COMPETES Act.

“These are practical steps that would expand and strengthen the partnerships that PG&E and other utilities have developed to ensure that the energy sector has a broad talent pool,” said Van Ton-Quinlivan, Director, Workforce Development, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) Company.

“The need to hire and train people in the utilities is more important now than it was when our first report was released in 2009,” said Jim Hunter, Director, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Utility Department. “The issue is exacerbated by the fact that not only do we have large numbers of retirements coming soon we also have a need to replace our aging infrastructure,” added Hunter.

“With sustained unemployment and the need to transition to a clean energy economy, now is the time to reinvigorate the workforce training system for the energy sector. Developing the workforce supply is only part of the equation, however,” explains Task Force participant Paul Allen, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Chief Environmental Officer, Constellation Energy. “The scale of job creation, and the types of skills we need, will be determined by the speed and the seriousness with which we develop clear federal policy to guide our transition to a low-carbon economy.”

A previous report released by this task force in 2009 reviewed the need to revitalize the career and technical education system in the U.S. to prepare for job growth in the electric power sector as it transitions to meet the needs of a clean energy economy. The report concluded that job growth would be driven by:

  • The need for workers to design, construct, and operate clean energy technologies and infrastructure, and
  • The need for a new generation of workers to replace the current workforce as it approaches retirement.

Complete copies of the report may be found here.

The members of the Task Force on America’s Future Energy Jobs are:

Task Force Participants

Paul Allen

Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Chief Environmental Officer

Constellation Energy

Bill Banig

Legislature Director

United Mine Workers of America

Bob Baugh

Executive Director, Industrial Union Council

AFL-CIO

Abe Breehey

Director of Legislative Affairs

International Brotherhood of Boilermakers

Marcy Drummond

Vice President of Academic Affairs

Los Angeles Trade Technical College

Dr. Scott Farrow

Chair of Economics Department

University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)

Barbara Hins-Turner

Executive Director

Center of Excellence for Energy Technology, Centralia College (WA)

Jim Hunter

Director, IBEW Utility Department

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

Dr. Nicholas P. Jones

Dean, G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering

Johns Hopkins University

Gary Kaplan

Executive Director

JFYNetWorks

Nerida Perez

Vice President, Inclusion and Diversity

National Grid

Robert J. Pleasure

Director of Education, Building and Construction Trades Department

AFL-CIO

Dr. Nan Poppe

Campus President (ret.)

Portland Community College

Roxanne Richards

Director, Workforce Development

Midwest Generation

Edison Mission Group

Van Ton-Quinlivan

Director, Strategic HR Programs

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)

Dee Torres

Recruiting Lead for Generation

Exelon Corporation

Jeff Williams

Manager, Corporate Environmental Initiatives

Entergy Corporation

Task Force Advisors

Advisors to the Task Force on America’s Future Energy Jobs provided invaluable technical input and information but did not participate in Task Force decisions aimed at developing policy recommendations. Therefore Task Force advisors do not endorse the recommendations put forward in this white paper.

Carol Berrigan

Senior Director, Industry Infrastructure

Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI)

Ian Copeland

President, Power – New Technology

Bechtel Power Corporation

Dr. Nancy Grasmick

State Superintendent of Schools

State of Maryland

Mary Miller

Vice President of Human Resources

Edison Electric Institute

Ann Randazzo

Director

Center for Energy and Workforce Development (CEWD)

William Stevens

Senior Power Technology Advisor

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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Paul Bledsoe
(202) 204-2400
pbledsoe@bipartisanpolicy.org

2011-06-30 00:00:00
Experts say ensuring the proper systems and institutions are in place will advance public policy goals and prepare for job growth in the energy sector.