A diverse stakeholder coalition is calling for increased investment in workforce development and greater coordination among local, regional, and national entities to support the growth of high-quality job opportunities in the clean energy industries, with a focus on the inclusion of diverse and underrepresented populations.

These recommendations are laid out in a report released today on behalf of the National Clean Energy Workforce Alliance, a forum uniting more than 500 stakeholders across the U.S. to improve recruitment, education, and placement outcomes with a focus on energy justice. The Alliance is led by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and the National Council for Workforce Education (NCWE) with support from Bank of America.

The report, Key Recommendations: Cultivating a Diverse and Skilled Talent Pipeline for the Equitable Transition, is the outcome of a series of in-depth convenings led by the Alliance since January 2022. It reflects input from more than 500 employers, education and training providers, organized labor, community-based and energy justice organizations, workforce program designers and funders, and policymakers.

“These recommendations will help clean energy employers meet the expected surge in demand for skilled workers as a result of growing markets from supportive policies like the Inflation Reduction Act,” said Larry Sherwood, President and CEO at IREC. “It offers a roadmap for clean energy workforce development focused on high-quality, family-sustaining jobs and increased collaboration among employers, organized labor, training providers, community-based organizations, and government.”

The report also follows up on the IREC-led Vision Summit in October 2022, a forum that explored strategies to build and expand a diverse and inclusive workforce amid an expected surge in clean energy job opportunities. This report will help funders, program designers, and those implementing workforce programs to focus resources where they will be most impactful and most supportive of a just transition to clean energy.

“These recommendations will help ensure that the clean energy transition is equitable and inclusive,” said Darlene G. Miller, Ed.D., Executive Director of the National Council for Workforce Education. “A just transition does not happen by accident, and the strategies outlined in this report drive the intentionality needed to include new and underrepresented populations in the prosperity of the new energy paradigm.” 

The report calls on employers to prioritize job quality through family-supporting salaries and benefits, as well as increased collaboration with organized labor. It supports the need for recruitment campaigns featuring clean energy workers as “energy heroes” to encourage interest from young people and those looking to change careers. 

The report highlights the need for intensive outreach and collaboration among stakeholders to promote a healthy workforce ecosystem and remove barriers for underrepresented workers. In particular, it focuses on the investment needed in community-based organizations working to remove barriers to inclusion for learners and workers. 

“Engagement of organizations in communities across the U.S. who provide employability skills, training, and other wraparound services is a critical component of the clean energy transition,” says James Metoyer III, Executive Director at EnerCity Collaborative. “The Alliance calls for better utilization of existing resources in communities and the new investment needed to ensure community prosperity and access to clean energy technology for all.”

To develop and promote career pathways, the Alliance calls for expanding apprenticeship opportunities in clean energy occupations, and making career exploration resources such as the IREC Career Maps more widely available. Other recommendations include deploying standardized, industry-vetted curricular resources; prioritizing well-designed, industry-validated training programs; and integrating clean energy into existing education and professional development pathways.

The full report can be viewed at https://bit.ly/NCEWAReport.

Photo courtesy of GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles