Press Releases

Small Businesses in Clean Energy Signal Need for Workforce Development

WASHINGTON – Today the House Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation and Workforce Development heard from industry experts about workforce demands generated by rapidly expanding clean energy sectors. 

“The clean energy sector offers opportunities that are exceedingly rare in our economy: jobs with low educational entry barriers and high yielded pay.  Filling said jobs would make a significant difference in low income communities across the country, including my home state of Ohio,” said Ranking Member Troy Balderson (R-OH).  “A lively and dynamic workforce pipeline is critical to the future growth of clean energy firms.  To make this significant investment, firms need policy consistency and regulatory clarity.”

Finding Qualified Candidates Remains Difficult for Many Clean Energy Firms

“Solar employers continue to struggle to find and retain qualified candidates: in 2018, 26% of all solar employers reported that it was ‘very difficult’ to hire qualified employees,” said Mr. Ed Gilliland, CEcD, AICP, PMP, Senior Director, The Solar Foundation, in Washington, DC.  “Workforce challenges are costly in terms of recruitment, delayed hiring, and lost business opportunities, and limit a company’s capacity for growth, especially for small businesses.”

“The construction industry is thriving, but over 80% of energy efficiency businesses report hiring difficulties,” said Mr. Mark Farrar Jackson, Vice President, Community Housing Partners dba CHP Energy Solutions, in Christiansburg, VA.  “As all levels of government recognize the need for and implement energy efficiency programs and policies, the success of those programs and policies relies on a robust and well-trained energy efficiency workforce.  There is so much opportunity in this sector if these hiring and training challenges can be addressed.”

“Renewables are replacing coal at an amazingly fast pace, and this is causing ripple effects through the construction industry.  I never imagined as a young sheet metal worker that I’d care about the economics and labor dynamics related to coal, gas, or renewables.  However, my livelihood, and the livelihood of our members depends upon us understanding and adapting to a rapidly shifting market,” said Mr. Jason L. Wardrip, Business Manager, Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council, in Denver, CO.  “As these projects become larger, local hiring will keep jobs in communities, particularly those losing coal jobs.  Local workers maintain the economies they live in by purchasing goods and services, paying taxes, and owning homes in their communities.”

“This is an exciting time to be in the clean energy sector.  The industry is strong today, and the future looks even stronger,” said Mr. Neil James, Vice President, Operations and Maintenance, Apex Clean Energy, in Charlottesville, VA.  “Meeting the growing demand of renewable energy will require additional investment in finding the necessary workforce.  We must create more opportunities to educate and train individuals for careers in the clean energy economy.”