Washington, D.C. (October 20, 2022) — Clean energy leaders from government, businesses, nonprofits, and energy justice organizations convened at a Vision Summit led by IREC to pursue strategies for building and expanding a diverse clean energy workforce.

At the October 19 summit held in Washington, D.C., participants advanced solutions to meet the expected surge in clean energy job opportunities over the coming decade, due in part to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. Equally important will be to ensure that the clean energy transition offers equitable opportunities to people of color, low-income communities, and other frequently underserved groups.

A video archive of the panel discussions, as well as photos, and other resources can be found here.

“Workforce development will be center stage in the dramatic expansion of the clean energy sector that is expected under the Inflation Reduction Act,” said Larry Sherwood, President and CEO at IREC. “At the Vision Summit, we were proud to lead a deep discussion on strategic solutions to help industries across the clean energy sector meet the demand for a skilled workforce while prioritizing equity and energy justice.”

“Workforce development will be center stage in the dramatic expansion of the clean energy sector that is expected under the Inflation Reduction Act.”

Larry Sherwood, President and CEO at IREC

The clean energy sector will need millions of new jobs to support the expected growth over the next decade. However, employers are already having difficulty finding qualified workers, a need that will only intensify as the expansion gets underway. In the solar industry, for example, 89% of firms say it is difficult or very difficult to find the skilled workers they need, according to IREC’s National Solar Jobs Census. Additional work is needed to remove barriers to inclusion for Americans in underserved communities that are disproportionately impacted by polluting energy sources.

To meet such challenges, IREC launched the National Clean Energy Workforce Alliance, an inclusive, cross-sector effort in partnership with the National Council for Workforce Education with support from Bank of America. More than 500 organizations including employers, training providers, community-based organizations, and energy justice organizations have participated in convenings hosted by the Alliance throughout this year.

At the conference, participants discussed the need to be intentional about workforce development and equity in a way that is reflected in budgets and priorities. Other key topics included the importance of partnerships with local community groups; providing “high-road jobs” with family-sustaining wages and advancement opportunities for workers; and boosting opportunities for training and career development.   

“The policy incentives are now in place for us to rapidly increase job opportunities in the clean energy sector within a few short years,” said Trenton Allen, CEO of Sustainable Capital Advisors, who sits on the IREC Board of Directors. “The IREC Vision Summit allowed us to share existing best practices that are ready for scaling and form new partnerships in order to implement equitable workforce solutions.” 

The Alliance will publish a summary of its findings and recommended solutions and best practices later this year. Future Alliance meetings will continue to develop actionable solutions to meet the industry’s most urgent workforce and equity priorities. Organizations interested in joining future convenings or receiving updates on its future reports can sign up on the Alliance web page.