Energy Workforce Growth Projections

Last Updated:
Fri, 2015-07-17 11:40

Anyone interested in the field of energy efficiency or the "green industry" should not be discouraged that the Home Star bill has yet to pass. Our stance is that not only is becoming a more independent and energy efficient nation the right thing to do, but we believe it is vital to the long term prosperity of our nation.

A recent study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif. predicts significant growth in the need for employees to service the energy efficiency industry. Hopefully this information will sway any "fence-sitters" that were hesitant to commit to this industry for fear of downsizing or lack of significant growth over time.

Full Text of the article below:

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., has published new workforce study based nearly 300 interviews with energy efficiency program administrators, education and training providers, regulatory staff and a variety of employers, trade associations and unions involved in the industry. The study was prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Energy Efficiency Services Sector: Workforce Size and Expectations for Growth analyzes current EESS job composition and workforce size, and projects future growth in spending and employment in the sector through 2020. Key findings of the study include:

In a high-growth scenario, anticipated spending on energy efficiency in 2020 will require a workforce that is at least four times larger than that in place in 2008. Even in a less likely low-growth scenario, the study’s authors estimate that the EESS workforce will grow by at least two-fold between 2008 and 2020. The EESS could reach nearly 1% of the national workforce by 2020 and may comprise as much as 3% of the relevant building and construction industry. This is equivalent to nearly 384,000 person-years of employment, translating to approximately 1.3 million individuals engaged in full-time or part-time work.

The anticipated increase means people currently employed in the EESS will need additional energy efficiency-specific training to keep abreast of developments in the field, and new people will need to be introduced to the sector and adequately trained to implement energy efficiency in a reliable and cost-effective manner. There is a need to inform the building and construction industry of the pending growth in the energy efficiency market. While the largest share of EESS workforce growth (78% percent of the 2020 high-growth scenario) will be in the building and construction industry, many people in the industry are unaware of the pending growth and are focused primarily on more immediate concerns driven by the severity of the economic downturn.

Employment opportunities are not be confined to labor and field positions. According to program administrator, contractor, and ESCO respondents, the hardest positions to fill are experienced energy engineers and management and supervisory positions Shortages of experienced energy engineers and mid-level experienced managers often create bottlenecks that limit growth in the broader EESS.

“At the root of the EESS workforce challenge is the fact that energy efficiency is not commonly understood in the population at large,” the study concludes. “A key challenge is to increase the visibility of energy efficiency. This means highlighting the benefits to the U.S. economy of increased energy efficiency, characterizing the current and potential economic impacts of the EESS, and informing and educating workforce development and labor market professionals on the emerging jobs and occupations that are unique to the EESS as well as the requirements for re-training and professional development of existing occupations so that they can effectively provide energy efficiency services as part of their normal business activities.”

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