In a strategic move to fuel America's transition to a clean energy economy, the Biden-Harris administration recently announced an allocation of $40.8 million towards the establishment of innovative training centers across the U.S. intended to cultivate a skilled workforce capable of steering the clean energy sector toward greater efficiency, decarbonization, and manufacturing excellence.
President Biden's recent legislation, including the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the American Climate Corps, and CHIPS and Science Act, lays the foundation for the potential creation of up to 2.9 million new jobs annually. From EV manufacturing to heat pump installation, the job opportunities in clean energy are increasing every day — but according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the immediate challenge lies in a shortage of adequately trained individuals to fill these pivotal roles.
Recognizing the importance of a robust and skilled workforce in fueling the clean energy transition, the Biden Administration will establish twenty seven centers dedicated to training individuals in energy efficiency, decarbonization, and clean energy manufacturing.
“We are thrilled to cultivate the next generation of clean energy professionals that will modernize buildings in their communities with the latest clean energy technology,” Henry McKoy, the director of the Department of Energy Office of State and Community Energy Programs, shared in a statement. “Not only will these students and workers help revolutionize the future of green buildings, but they will help us all achieve our energy goals and fight climate change.”
Building upon the government’s previous workforce programs, the centers aim to empower at least 3,000 individuals over the course of a three-year funding period. Intended to cater to individuals with varying levels of experience, the centers are designed to empower participants to learn and enhance their skills for the workforce regardless of their preexisting knowledge or certifications.
Biden’s groundbreaking training centers will be strategically located across the nation, spanning community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools, and universities. From Oceanside, California, to South Charleston, West Virginia, the geographic spread ensures inclusivity and accessibility for aspiring green energy professionals.
The seventeen institutions selected will be Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs), expanding upon an existing network of thirty-seven facilities. With a focus on preparing individuals for roles in industrial energy efficiency, each center will offer programs to produce skilled professionals, ranging from energy auditors to building-energy managers to EV and lithium-battery technicians.
Another ten institutions have been chosen as Building Training and Assessment Centers, extending the objectives of the IAC program more broadly to commercial buildings and public institutions.
First established in the 1970s, IACs have provided students with training in manufacturing operations for generations. One of the primary methods of teaching is bringing students to the factory floor for hands-on instruction, including conducting energy audits for smaller manufacturers to help them cut energy use and cost.
While there’s a lot to be said for learning on the job, the assessments themselves are incredibly valuable. The Department of Energy estimates that the industrial sector accounts for about a quarter of U.S. energy consumption and 30% of its CO2 emissions.
Several training centers established at universities are collaborating with community colleges and high schools to develop joint curricula. These partnerships not only extend learning opportunities but also provide technical internships, college credits, and skill advancement for both working professionals and students.
The initiative is taking its investments in inclusivity even further, expanding beyond university-based centers for the first time. The recent inclusion of training programs administered by organizations such as the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied workers is notable because the expansion aims to train individuals for high-quality jobs that don’t require a bachelor's degree.
Additionally, thirteen of the new training centers are located at institutions serving a high percentage of students from minority groups. Over 75% of the funds are directed towards disadvantaged communities, aligning with the administration’s Justice40 commitment, which pledges to deliver a minimum of 40% of climate and investment benefits to underserved communities.
The Biden-Harris administration’s injection of $40 million into clean energy workforce training marks another pivotal step towards a sustainable future, laying the groundwork for a skilled workforce capable of driving innovation, efficiency, resiliency, and environmental stewardship in the evolving landscape of green energy.
According to the U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, "America’s global leadership on advanced manufacturing and energy efficient buildings depends on our skilled, diverse workforce here at home. “Thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, DOE is doing even more to invest in workers and small businesses, helping us meet our clean energy goals while creating high-quality, good-paying jobs in communities across the country.”
While the new funds are expected to directly support the training of thousands, the collaborative partnerships and support networks forged through these centers are poised to catalyze the future clean energy careers of a significantly larger number of students and workers. Regardless of educational accolades or work experience, the government’s investment is leveling the playing field and committing to the clean energy transition, ensuring that green energy jobs are indeed for everyone.