Energy Workforce Development in the 21st Century

David Foster, Sade Nabahe, and Benny Siu Hon Ng

September 2020

Solutions to climate change will require the mass deployment of new energy technologies and infrastructure. Two fundamental questions emerge from this reality. First, is the U.S. workforce training system capable of providing the next generation of labor for these positions in a timely fashion? Second, will this transition in jobs and skills result in a more equitable American society? This paper will provide a review of existing workforce development programs, a profile of the existing energy workforce, and the challenges and opportunities presented by a thirty-year transition to a low carbon economy. This paper will also present a job-quality strategy for the energy, energy efficiency, and motor vehicle sectors to ensure that this transition maximizes economic equity and racial and gender diversity. Finally, the paper will assess the historic policy tool kit utilized to respond to stranded workers and communities, including job training programs and trade adjustment assistance, and consider the trade-offs between person-level interventions versus community level interventions.