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Crow Looks to Close Skills Gap in the Clean Energy Sector

Washington, October 29, 2019

Washington, D.C.— Today, the House Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation and Workforce Development under Chairman Jason Crow (D-CO) assembled for a hearing focused on workforce development issues facing small businesses in the clean energy sector. Overall, small firms in the clean and renewable energy industry are experiencing workforce shortages that inhibit their ability to grow and meet consumer demand.

“To support the rapid transition of our energy sources and create a forward-looking economy, a massive workforce mobilization effort will be required,” said Chairman Crow. “And to do that, we need to train Americans of all ages to do these jobs. This should include transitioning the current fossil fuel workforce to ensure that they continue to receive a paycheck, health care, pensions, and other necessities that comes from an energy job.”

The combination of greater social responsibility due to the climate crisis, government incentives, and the falling cost of renewable energy has led to a substantial increase in demand for clean energy. In the U.S., renewable sources of energy make up 17.1% of all energy generation. Clean energy jobs now outnumber fossil fuel jobs by nearly three to one. However, as demand for clean energy has risen, small firms have struggled to hire the necessary number of workers to keep pace with demand. This struggle partially stems from a lack of qualified potential employees in the clean energy business. The small talent pool has been driven by the unique certifications required by the industry and competition from larger enterprises for qualified workers. As demand for renewable energy continues to increase, workforce development will be necessary for small businesses to continue to grow in the industry.     

The hearing gave members the chance to hear about the experiences of small businesses in the field and examine proposals that would train more qualified workers and ease the hiring struggles of small businesses in the industry. 

“The construction industry is thriving, but over 80% of energy efficiency businesses report hiring difficulties,” said Mark Jackson, Vice President of Community Housing Partners. “Almost half of those cite the lack of applicants who are experienced, trained, or have the necessary technical skills to do the work.”

“I see great opportunity for our industry in the new energy economy,” said Jason Wardrip, Business Manager at the Colorado Building and Construction Trade Council. “As the desire to reduce carbon emissions escalates, our Union members will answer the call to retrofit older technology and build the infrastructure of the future. There's a lot of work to be done to create and modify our built spaces to be comfortable, efficient, and sustainable.”

“Meeting the growing demand of renewable energy will require additional investment in finding the necessary workforce,” said Neil James, VP of Operations, Maintenance, and Monitoring at Apex Clean Energy in Charlotesville, VA. “We must create more opportunities to educate and train individuals for careers in the clean energy economy.”

“It’s critical we move to more clean energy and away from fossil fuels by producing products and providing services supporting bold and practical environmental and energy policy for America’s future,” said Chairman Crow. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on policies to train workers in this field and ensure that this industry can grow.”

 

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