Like any major sector of the United States, energy employs millions of people per year. Studies show that approximately 6.4 million people are employed in the energy sector, and it appears to be trending higher. Energy jobs are some of the most important; they are necessary for keeping our grid safe, ensuring effective transmission and distribution, and mitigating emissions. These elements provide a simple, but effective framework for determining our goals with regards to energy. Like anything, strategy combined with end goals, is an effective formula for completing tasks in a specific field. In this piece, I would like to outline how to effectively build the modern energy workforce, using specific examples to define which fields employees will be needed. In the nuclear, electrical, decarbonization, and other fields, tasks, such as innovation and technological advancement are necessary for the foundation of the workforce.
The energy workforce needs to promote the growth of our communities, locally, and nationally. The second major goal of our workforce should be to enhance the overall position of the United States in the global markets. These employees need the proper training, in order to gain the proper skills for ensuring we have the best supply, and most efficient transmission and distribution systems. A framework created by the energy futures initiatives, recommends a regional approach to creating energy related jobs, and providing the training. This approach seems the most logical to me, simply because it divides the country into portions that aren’t too small or too large. This allows for easy identification of issues, efficient allocation of resources, and more user friendly on the job training. This is the first step in expanding our energy workforce; without a solid foundation, expansion will not be possible.
The next question that must be visited, is what kinds of jobs are we looking at in the future? The current administration insists on pushing this idea that we are somehow going to bring jobs of the past back to the United States. Frankly, this is a logical fallacy; rather than forward thinking this is backward thinking and will only set us back for years to come. Manufacturing and production jobs, that once dominated this country no longer exist. Rather than looking into the past, we should search for new means of labor for our citizens that will have a greater impact on society. From research conducted by Ernest Moniz, former secretary of energy, it has been forecasted that 2.2 million jobs will be available in energy efficiency. This means mitigating emissions, improving our electrical transmission systems, ensuring the security of our grid, and decarbonizing our systems. All of these factors combine to create an efficient energy sector. One with high output, quick speed, and little to no emissions. If this type of system can be achieved then we are guaranteed to expand the employment in the energy sector.
A simple but effective strategy I believe we can use to expand the workforce is through college recruiting, through internships, summer programs, and other co op type opportunities. Gaining the interest of the brightest young minds in America, to innovate and create within this sector would profoundly impact the effectiveness and competitiveness of our sector. The second component to this plan would be reaching out to the unrepresented population, and providing them with education programs and on the job training to people such as veterans, and those from less fortunate communities. This whole strategy allows for outreach, and can potentially bring together the brightest minds in our country; all while providing everyone with equal opportunity no matter the background. The end goal of this is job creation, and putting the necessary workers in place to improve our overall efficiency.
In this piece, I outlined a framework that will allow for expansion in our workforce, particularly in the energy sector. If we work towards growing the 6.4 million current jobs, through forward thinking, with the a goal of improving efficiency, we will see a workforce that is well trained, involving people of all backgrounds, producing results. We need to work towards mitigating emissions and improving our overall transmission and distribution of energy. In the end, this will increase our global competitiveness and bring clean energy to our communities.