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Strengthening America’s Energy Future through Education and Workforce Development

August 11, 2010 - 10:04am


To have a strong clean energy revolution we need to have a strong energy workforce. Maintaining our strong energy workforce is a priority motivator in the “Energy Education and Workforce Development Request for Information” (RFI) that was released late last week. Reports like this one from the nonprofit Center for Energy Workforce Development are a cause for concern, as they warn that 40% - 60% of the current energy utility workforce could be eligible to retire by 2012.  The National Renewable Energy Laboratory cautions that a shortage of training and skills is “a leading barrier to renewable energy and energy-efficiency growth.”

The newly-released RFI from DOE’s Applied Energy Office seeks to gauge the status, prevalence, quality, and gaps in education and workforce development relevant to energy technologies. Any and all energy stakeholders interested in providing input into the scope and priorities of DOE’s education and workforce development activities are invited to answer a series of questions on attracting and developing a clean energy workforce. Visit the RFI here and click on “body” on the right-hand side to view the full description.

The effort to attract and develop a strong clean energy workforce at DOE is not a new one. Historically, DOE has a record of supporting education and workforce development. Our programs range from well-known education challenges like the National Science Bowl and Solar Decathlon, to smaller summer research experiences for teachers and students at our National Laboratories, to major grants and awards for advancing the clean energy revolution. But there is more work to be done, especially in the growing clean energy economy.

Let’s accelerate the adoption, deployment and improvement of clean energy technologies by supporting educators, students, and our current employees. Teachers like the Discovery Siemens Fellows that visited DOE last week have pushed to ensure that our workforce is as vibrant as ever; teaching our students and future solar panel installers, line engineers and smart grid technicians the skills necessary to drive the clean energy economy.

Through the RFI, events like the Discovery Channel & Siemens Fellows visit, and DOE’s already strong education and workforce development programs, the DOE and the Applied Energy Offices will continue to work with the public, academic and energy associations, to ensure that we are equipping our students and workforce with the skills and training they need to lead the clean energy economy. Responses to the RFI are requested by September 3, 2010, by 8pm EST.

Kristina Johnson is the Under Secretary for Energy