Workforce Development: Lessons learned from our webinar
Our recent workforce development webinar, led by Senior Practice Consultant Nicole Davis, featured perspectives from guests across the energy efficiency and training industry. We had an active discussion about how the industry can train and enable the future energy efficiency workforce.
Here are our top takeaways and clips.
1. The time to build the next energy efficiency workforce is now.
With a widening gap between supply and demand for workers with green skills and billions of dollars in climate and energy funding on the way, it’s vital that utilities, implementers, and state energy offices focus on developing the future of our industry. This need has escalated with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). State governments will have an unprecedented opportunity to fund clean energy programs, increasing the demand for certified energy efficiency employees.
2. Focus on underrepresented communities to help grow the workforce.
To meet the growing needs of the energy industry, new or local offices must fully represent the diversity in the communities they serve. This will not only grow the workforce but also build stronger connections with customers. Organizations like Rising Sun Center for Opportunity are actively training youth from disadvantaged communities in their Climate Careers program and have also spearheaded efforts to grow the number of women in the energy industry. We’re passionate about working with organizations like Rising Sun and other diversity partners and are working actively with our clients to help their initiatives.
3. Trade allies need education and confidence to help drive market transformation.
With so many utility programs relying on a vast network of trade allies, nothing can stall or stop momentum like a lack of information. New technologies often lead to a steeper learning curve and higher adoption comes with comfort and familiarity. Staff may need to be retrained to build confidence in new platforms and educated on upcoming market trends. Building Performance Institute, Inc (BPI) offers a wide variety of certifications, including Building Science Principles and Healthy Housing, that prepares staff for energy efficiency jobs. As new technologies like heat pumps become more prevalent, there will be a greater need to coordinate with organizations like BPI, utilities, implementers and more to accelerate market transformation.
4. Weaving together multiple funding sources is difficult, but necessary.
While utilities may have dollars set aside for workforce development, programs can often be held to cost-effectiveness standards making it harder to invest in long-term efforts like training and development. Fortunately, many income-qualified programs have already shown success weaving together federal dollars and utility funding. These types of innovative program designs should be a blueprint for many states and utilities to work together on funded programs. The IRA will grant states $200 million to develop training programs for home energy and electrification contractors and training programs like Rising Sun’s Climate Careers program are seeing more money come through via philanthropic organizations and grants. While navigating cost-effectiveness and funds from multiple sources is a challenge, the impact of doing it successfully can allow utility and state-run programs to thrive.
For more on workforce development, check out the full webinar on our YouTube page and stay tuned to Energy Forum for more content and perspectives.