For employers in the clean energy field, Registered Apprenticeships (RAs) are a time-honored way to acquire and retain talented employees. Apprentices are paid employees who receive on-the-job training as they perform the requirements of a job and progress in their career education. 

To take advantage of this opportunity, employers must identify roles that are defined as “Apprenticeable” by the U.S. Department of Labor and/or a state Apprenticeship agency. An “Apprenticeable” occupation meets the following criteria: 

  • It is commonly recognized throughout an industry.
  • It is customarily learned through structured and supervised on-the-job training.
  • It requires at least one year of on-the-job learning combined with supplemental classroom instruction to become proficient. 

Over 1,000 occupations have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor as being Apprenticeable.

Apprenticeships have typically been utilized in “crafts” or “trades” where extensive hands-on experience is required, but they can be utilized in many other lines of work. Apprenticeships have been growing rapidly in fields such as information technology and manufacturing. Many mid-level and professional roles can also be taught through an Apprenticeship.

Clean energy employers can use Apprenticeships to develop a skilled and diverse workforce across a range of occupations including those in sales, design, construction, project management, information technology, human resources, customer service, manufacturing, and operations. 

Common Apprenticeable Occupations for Clean Energy Employers

Construction Trades

Energy Efficiency: Carpenter, Construction Craft Laborer, Electrician (Interior), Glazier, HVAC Installer/Technician, Insulator, Pipefitter, Plumber, & Weatherization Technician

Solar-Plus-Storage: Carpenter (Pile Driver), Construction Craft Laborer, Electrician (Interior), Electrician (Lineworker), Electrician (Residential), Electrician (Substation), Iron Worker (Structural), Operating Engineer, Roofer

Wind: Cement Mason, Construction Craft Laborer, Crane Operator, Electrician (Lineworker), Electrician (Substation), Iron Worker (Reinforcing), Millwright, Operating Engineer, Rigger, Wind Turbine Technician

Non-Construction

Customer Service Representative, Cybersecurity Specialist, Designer Drafter, Energy Auditor, Human Resources Specialist, Maintenance Repairer, Network and Computer Systems Administrator, Manufacturing Technician, Mechanical Engineer, Mechatronics Technician, Operations Manager, Project Manager, Purchasing Agent, Software Developers, Technical Sales Representative, Recruiter, Training and Development Specialist, Transportation Storage and Distribution Manager, Wind Turbine Technician, … and many more!

Compliance With the Inflation Reduction Act

While Apprenticeships are an effective workforce development strategy for a wide range of occupations, only some of these occupations will allow taxpayers to qualify for incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). To obtain most of the tax credits and deductions, the law requires a minimum percentage of construction labor hours to be performed by Registered Apprentices (12.5% in 2023 and 15% in 2024 and beyond). In addition, every contractor or subcontractor with at least four workers must have at least one Registered Apprentice. 

The IRA labor provisions only pertain to manual labor occupations who perform “construction, alteration, and repair” work during the construction phase. Construction supervisors /  foreman, and any “bona fide executive, administrative or professional” roles are excluded. 

Applicable tax incentives in the bill include the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and Production Tax Credit (PTC) for renewable energy projects equal or greater to  1 MW; the Commercial Energy Efficiency Tax Deduction for energy efficiency improvements to commercial property; and the Alternative Fuel Refueling Property Credit for electric vehicle charging equipment and other eligible fueling stations. 

The IRA also requires paying prevailing wage to all “laborers and mechanics” in order to be eligible for the tax credits. Apprentices may be paid rates lower than the prevailing wage in accordance with the approved Apprenticeship Program Standards and the Apprentice’s level of progress for the job classification in the applicable wage determination.

How We Can Help

The Apprenticeships in Clean Energy (ACE) Network can help employers, education providers, and other clean energy workforce development stakeholders in navigating the Registered Apprenticeship system to train workers in a variety of occupations. To learn more about free technical assistance available, contact the ACE Network today.

This project has been funded, either wholly or in part, with Federal funds from the Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration under Contract number [1605C2-23-C-0015], the contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement of same by the U.S. Government.