A new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) assesses the national wind energy workforce and the hiring needs of the industry.
Entitled, “The Wind Energy Workforce in the United States: Training, Hiring, and Future Needs,”PD the report reviews the educational programs that are preparing students for work.
According to the NREL, the researchers interviewed educational institutions offering wind programs, as well as industry representatives, to identify gaps in the workforce and path to employment.
The goal: “To better understand the wind industry workforce, hiring needs, and educational pathways, researchers surveyed wind industry employers and educational institutions that offered degrees or certificates in wind energy or renewable energy with some coursework dedicated to wind,” states the report’s Executive Summary.
Here are a few of the findings:
- Across the country, students are entering wind-related educational programs, and jobs are available in the industry.
- Hiring companies are not finding qualified applicants for open entry-level positions, and students are not being offered jobs that allow them to enter the industry. Researchers refer to this disparity as the “wind energy workforce gap.”
- While some programs — such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Collegiate Wind Competition — are available to connect students with industry representatives and provide real-world experience, more solutions are needed to prepare students to enter the wind energy workforce.
- The industry needs people with entry to advanced-level skillsets (in areas such as project development, component manufacturing, construction, operations, education, training, and research). The required education levels for these positions range from high school degrees to vocational degrees and apprenticeships to doctorate degrees — highlighting the need to evaluate wind education programs along the academic spectrum.
- The report highlights wind energy workforce gaps and proposes the need for creative solutions to meet the needs of job-seeking students and a growing industry.
- Narrowing this workforce gap—decreasing hiring difficulty while increasing graduates’ ability to find jobs in the industry—could reduce recruiting costs, better satisfy employer needs, and grow the domestic wind workforce.
- In addition to assessing the current state of the wind industry’s workforce and training, the report looks ahead to future needs of the industry and the potential education programs needed to support its growth.
Download the full report here.