To meet the U.S. goals for a 100% carbon-free grid by 2035, the wind energy workforce must keep pace with industry growth. This means closing its workforce gap. Now, two new reports from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) explore the reasons behind the wind workforce gap and suggest solutions to close it.
In the survey, employers cited a lack of experience, appropriate education and training, as well as an insufficient number of applicants as reasons why they could not find qualified candidates for their jobs. location. Students and recent graduates have identified difficulties in being related work experience and technical training as well as finding job opportunities near where they live or want to live.
The gap, identified in a 2019 NREL study, refers to the problem the industry faces when it comes to recruiting qualified workers, and at the same time, the difficulty of qualified workers in finding qualified workers. . wind jobs in the industry. The disconnect between employers in the industry, labor forceand educational institutions resulted in wind energy employers being unable to recruit beginner jobs and students or recent graduates struggling to get these positions.
In one report, Determining the wind energy workforce gap, the researchers documented the ongoing challenges facing the industry, its potential workforce, and energy-related educational institutions and training programs. The team surveyed the wind energy industry as well as current students and recent graduates from U.S. educational institutions to gain insight into how people transition into and through their wind energy careers.
For the following report, Define wind energy experienceTogether with researchers, conducted a thorough analysis of job requirements data to gather valuable insights into company practices, job seekers’ difficulty in finding entry-level positions. Relevant input and variety of career paths for selected occupations in the wind energy industry.
“If we are to achieve our wind energy goals, we need a workforce to do it,” said Jeremy Stefek, a NREL researcher and co-author of both reports. support this industry. “We explored the reasons for the wind workforce gap and found that experience, geography and hands-on training all play a role.”
The researchers chose three occupations to consider—School in every schoolelectrical systems engineers and welders—all vital to the growing and in-demand wind energy industry.
“We looked at job postings to find out about the availability of internships and entry-level positions,” says Stefek. “We then check company websites to determine if they offer specific internships or other start-up positions. Finally, we identify individuals from these or similar companies are hiring in the industry and assess their education and work experience to highlight similarities and differences that can give us insight. insight into the future wind energy workforce.”
These three jobs represent different areas of the industry and provide examples the team can use to suggest methods that can help connect the wind energy industry to its potential workforce. , consists of:
- Provide on-site work experience through internships and assistant roles—positions typically held by electrical systems engineers rather than environmental scientists or welders
- Develop internships and graduate concentrations for electrical system engineers and environmental scientists
- Use clear, industry-wide language in job postings, such as “entry level” or “junior level” to help potential job applicants easily identify suitable positions. fit
- Provide a central location (e.g., an industry-wide job portal) for candidates to submit resumes and track their application status
- Collaborate with academic institutions to include relevant subjects in their curricula to build candidate knowledge, for example, one of the most frequently listed requirements in the vacancies for environmental scientists is experience with the National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental laws, regulations, and policies, making this knowledge important. for the potential workforce to get
- Consider factors that influence employee retention, such as electrical systems engineers and welders having a higher rate of replacement than environmental scientists.
“Employee retention is an important consideration for employers,” says Stefek. “Like any industry, once we have workers, we need to keep them. For example, welders can work in many fields, using their skills and certifications to transform. to wind energy and beyond.”
Applying these research findings can improve the link between the wind energy industry and its potential workforce, helping the country to successfully transition to a low-cost clean energy industry. energy Future.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
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