U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced the creation of the Utility Industry Workforce Initiative during a speech at the Edison Electric Institute conference in New Orleans. This key partnership between the Departments of Energy, Labor, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, and five utility trade associations will recruit and train service members, veterans and military spouses to qualify for high-skilled jobs in the utility industry.
As seen in the recently released Quadrennial Energy Review, investments are needed to modernize the nation’s energy infrastructure, creating additional employment opportunities. Projections indicate that, by 2030, the energy sector, including transmission, energy storage and distribution, will employ an additional 1.5 million workers.
At a time when 200,000 veterans are leaving the military annually, recruiting and training for energy jobs can reduce the skills gap in a critical set of industries.
“Energy is America’s great economic advantage in the 21st century global economy, but we’ll need a 21st century energy infrastructure to keep that advantage, built by a 21st century workforce,” said Secretary Moniz. “New job-driven training strategies, reflecting a broader range of needed skills, will be required to meet the challenges of the future. America’s talented pool of veterans provides the leaders our utility industry needs to build a new energy future.”
“This administration continues to find exciting new ways to extend richly deserved ladders of opportunity to our veterans,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “With the Utility Workforce Council, Secretary Moniz and the energy industry are showing bold, innovative leadership, and we will deploy the resources and expertise of the Labor Department and the workforce system to help ensure its success.
“Our industry is facing significant retirements of our existing workforce, and we are working together to develop solutions and approaches to identify a talented, high-skilled, and innovative industry workforce for the future,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “The leadership abilities, mission focus, commitment to safety, and team orientation that military service members consistently demonstrate are exactly the skills our industry needs in its workers. We are pleased to work together with our government partners on the Utility Industry Workforce Initiative with the goal to provide veterans a path to rewarding energy careers.”
This initiative will promote and, where necessary, design training and credentialing opportunities for veterans and transitioning service members to facilitate their entry into the utility industry, including apprenticeships and training that can utilize the DoD SkillBridge authority and other federal training resources where military occupations map to utility jobs.
DoD SkillBridge allows eligible service members to obtain valuable civilian jobs skills training, full time, from potential employers beginning up to six months prior to separating from the military. The agencies and associations will work together to make it easier for veterans to translate their military skills and training into the credentials that qualify them for these great positions in utilities.
The Department of Labor, through the nearly 2,500 American Job Center network nationwide, will provide support and a direct connection to local veterans seeking training, skills upgrades and employment in the energy sector and to employers looking to hire veterans. DOL will also provide guidance to the Initiative in matching military occupation codes with credentialing opportunities in the utility sector and expanding training capacity available through the existing community college and career training grant structure.
The Department of Veterans Affairs will leverage the local reach and resources of its Veterans Economic Communities Initiative to connect transitioning Servicemembers, Veterans and their families with training and employment opportunities in the utility industry.
The Utility Industry Workforce Initiative is a public-private partnership of federal agencies, trade associations, companies and other entities committed to a multi-year effort to facilitate the recruitment, training and retention of exiting service members, veterans and military spouses into employment in the utility industry.
Founding private sector members of the Initiative include the EEI, the Center for Energy Workforce Development, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the American Gas Association.