How are US cities prepping workers for a clean energy future? We take a look

(ACEEE blog, 28 Jan 2020) As US cities take an active role in advancing clean energy, they will need a ready and capable workforce to achieve their goals.

The good news: Half (37) of the 75 cities in our 2019 City Clean Energy Scorecard have clean energy workforce development programs, and in a new topic brief published today, we highlight innovative examples nationwide.

These programs and initiatives can help ensure that a pipeline of workers is set to join the growing clean energy economy. As our research shows, these efforts vary greatly, with some offering free hands-on training and others increasing city contracts to minority-owned and women-owned businesses. Some have a strong focus on equity and aim to recruit underrepresented groups for jobs using clean energy services and technologies.

Cities are not doing this alone. Many have cultivated partnerships with utilities, non-profits, colleges, and other stakeholders to support local energy efficiency and renewable energy workforce development efforts, which often provide the necessary training and certifications. In 2018, energy efficiency jobs accounted for nearly half of all energy sector jobs, and the sector is projected to grow nearly 8% in 2019, thus enabling even more economic and job opportunities.

Our new topic brief, Cities and Clean Energy Workforce Development, discusses the models cities can emulate to jumpstart robust and diverse programs, as well as inclusive procurement and contracting strategies. It draws on a larger ACEEE report about local government actions to develop an energy efficiency workforce for new and existing public and private buildings.

It also features case studies of cities with promising programs. In Florida, for example, Orlando offers energy benchmarking workshops for building owners, partners with a local college to develop an energy-focused curriculum, and offers mini-workshops on energy policy and solar installation to at-risk youth, veterans, and low-income community members.

Findings from the 2019 City Scorecard

Most (30) of the 37 cities with workforce development efforts have aligned their programs with existing clean energy policies and/or funded clean energy related trainings. For instance, Birmingham, AL, partnered with local institutions to offer energy efficiency training opportunities to Minority Business Enterprise contracting partners. By strengthening these skills among the local workforce, it plans to scale up energy savings and building efficiency in its municipal buildings and future efficiency projects.

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ACEEE blog, 28 Jan 2020: How are US cities prepping workers for a clean energy future? We take a look