Clean Energy Spotlight

Building Inclusive Apprenticeships in the Clean Energy Sector

Woman working on a solar energy farm

PIA Clean Energy Ecosystem

PIA Clean Energy EcosystemPIA is partnering with government; the clean energy workforce; advocacy, consumer, and community organizations; professional associations; and educators, research, and thought leaders to help make the clean energy talent pipeline more inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities. View the PIA Clean Energy Ecosystem infographic.

Building Workforce Talent for the Clean Energy Sector through Apprenticeship

Richard LawrenceMegan HowesRichard Lawrence and Megan Howes of IREC (the Interstate Renewable Energy Council) discuss how the development of inclusive apprenticeship programs will enable the rapidly growing clean energy sector to meet its demand for skilled talent.

Listen to the podcast and read the transcript

leaf and power outletInclusion in the Clean Energy Sector

  • Clean energy is energy generated from renewable resources or energy saved by more efficient energy-producing systems. Most renewable energy sources are from solar, wind, water, or geothermal.
  • In 2020 there were more than 3 million jobs in the clean energy sector, including positions in industries such as solar, electric vehicle manufacturing, and energy efficiency. Yet, employers struggle to find skilled candidates for these positions.
  • Inclusive apprenticeship programs can build a pipeline of diverse, untapped talent to fill a broad range of jobs in this growing sector. Read Diversifying the Solar Workforce through Inclusive Apprenticeships.
  • Apprentices with disabilities can enter into a career as a Commercial Building Code Inspector, a Solar Marketing Specialist, an Energy Systems Engineer, and more. Read Inclusive Apprenticeships: Increasing Access to Clean Energy Careers for People with Disabilities.

clean energy icons and dollar symbolFunding Inclusive Clean Energy Apprenticeships

  • Creating apprenticeship programs can be a low-cost way to build a pipeline of skilled workers. (Learn more about the key benefits that inclusive apprenticeships offer employers and people with disabilities.)
  • Many states offer funding that can aid in the development of inclusive programs, providing financial support for clean energy workforce development, apprenticeship training, and/or job creation for people with disabilities.
  • There are a variety of funding opportunities to assist in creating more inclusive training for jobs in the clean energy sector. Some examples of state funding include:

Resources

Read these additional resources for more information on apprenticeships and inclusive apprenticeships, opportunities in the clean energy sector, and more.

Diversifying the solar workforce through inclusive apprenticeships

This article is reprinted from Solar Power World with the permission of the editor. According to the United States Energy and Employment Report (USEER) 2021, much of the clean energy sector experienced job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the solar industry saw an 8% decline in jobs. In 2020, the industry began rebounding, bringing an influx of 560,000 jobs into the energy sector and a continued need for solar workers. As we turn the corner into 2022, experts anticipate continued growth in solar jobs. A recent study from the U.S. Department of Energy projects that the solar industry will employ between 500,000 and 1.5 million American workers by 2035. Though increasingly optimistic about the future outlook, many industry leaders face major hurdles to recruit and hire experienced candidates to fill the growing number of clean energy jobs. As outlined in the 2021 USEER report, 88% of companies in the electric power generation sector reported: “It was either somewhat difficult (69%) or very difficult (20%) to find new employees.” At the same time, the energy sector is “less diverse than the nation as a whole,” and employers are seeking ways to build diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible workplaces. Apprenticeship programs that are designed to...

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New Florida milestone highlights the value of apprenticeships for the solar industry

This article is reprinted from Solar Power World with the permission of the editor. Registered apprenticeship programs (RAPs) are a proven workforce development tool that is employer-driven and worker-centric. They provide a pathway for new employees to earn an entry-level salary while learning the trade through a combination of on-the-job training and related classroom instruction, with progressive wage increases as they learn and gain experience. Apprenticeships can also help grow the solar workforce at a time when demand for workers is high and our industry will need to grow significantly to meet clean energy and climate targets. There are many additional benefits of registered apprenticeship programs, including access to tax credits, tuition and wage reimbursement, GI Bill housing allowances and other financial incentives. Unfortunately, solar apprenticeship programs have historically been limited because key solar jobs are not yet recognized as “apprenticeable” by the U.S. Department of Labor. A recent milestone in Florida underscores the value of solar apprenticeships and complements an existing effort among industry stakeholders to develop standards that would enable this option across the country. Florida creates a solar installer registered apprenticeship program The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) and Florida Solar Energy Industries Association (FlaSEIA) worked together...

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Hiring and Retaining Apprentices with Disabilities

Apprenticeship.gov provides information and resources on the basics of apprentices, hiring and retaining apprentices with disabilities, and the apprenticeship Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) regulations that support inclusive workplaces. Resources are also available on potential career paths to pursue through apprenticeship and case studies targeted toward employers on the benefits of apprenticeships.

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Clean Jobs America 2020: Repowering America’s Economy in the Wake of COVID-19

The E2 summary and breakdown of Clean Jobs data from the United States Energy Employment Report (USEER) for 2020. This report details the sheer size of this important employment sector, the troubles it is currently facing due to COVID-19, and how focusing recovery policies on clean energy can get America’s economy humming again—quickly and for the long run.

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The Solar Career Map

Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC)’s Solar Career Map displays the variety of jobs and skills needed within the solar workforce.

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Advancing Inclusion Through Clean Energy Jobs

With the push for “green jobs,” this analysis by the Brookings Institute is designed to help energy-sector professionals, state and local policymakers, regional education and training sector leaders, and community organizations get a clearer look at the nature, needs, and opportunities associated with the future clean energy workforce. This analysis explores the extent to which such occupations will offer inclusive pathways to economic opportunity.

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