I have been hard at work involved in business development for the energy sector. The energy sector is vast and varied. I have attended seminars, luncheons, conferences and tradeshows and one thing has come up loud and clear:
Green energy has become a hot topic for one and all because there is no way to escape the impact it will have on the future of the nation, either economically or environmentally. No matter where believes about fossil energies and oil dependency lie, we cannot blindside ourselves with policy and budget controversy, the reality is that clean energy is here to stay.
Therefore, with the energy policy well on its way, whether this presidential term or next, the future holds great opportunities for those seeking a career change or for those just beginning life in the workforce.
For now, energy jobs are being filled with people from all fields and back grounds. Many times the unwritten topic of discussion during these luncheons or seminars is the lack of trained professionals for the emerging technologies.
“Sixty percent of those responding to a recent survey by the Association of Energy Services Professionals cited a lack of talented workers in energy efficiency.”
Most, it must be said, are engineers who have made the transition to these new industries. For example, all of the technologies and know-how used to set up oil rigs offshore are now being utilized to set up wind turbines in the middle of the ocean. Or, many certified electricians are now installing solar panels. It is they who are now working in this innovative field and are paving the path for certification and regulation for future generations.
Same thing can be said for those who do wind monitoring analysis for example. Their expertise is being put to the test. They can help establish a location for a wind farm by analyzing the wind factor in an area. Not to mention stress tests for new and better wind turbines. Others in IT for example, are helping design software that will allow for short term predictions of fluctuating energy loads.
There will always be transitions between “traditional jobs” and “green jobs” but soon it will not be enough, the industry needs specialists. Workers need to be trained and not transitioned into the renewable energy/clean-tech industry.
And quite conscious of this need, community colleges all over the nation are adding clean energy and green tech to their program; alone or with help:
“The Greenforce Initiative: Advancing Greener Careers and Campuses seeks to strengthen the capacity of community colleges in the United States to implement or refine high quality green career pathway programs while responding to immediate and long-term workforce needs in emerging green sectors.”
“America’s community college systems are the premier job training and education providers in the United States and can be a driver in the creation of local workforce partnerships'”bringing together green sector employers, workforce development organizations, unions, and other community stakeholders.”
The possibilities are endless in this new field: Green-Collar Jobs range from Solar Energy System Installer, Wind Turbine Machinist, Landfill Gas Technician, Hydro-Electric Engineer, Energy Commission Specialist, Smart Grid Engineer and Water Systems Designer among others.
And according to a July 12th 2011 USA Today article:
“Clean-tech jobs offered median wages 20% higher across the United States in 2010, according to a report released today from researchers Brookings and Battelle. Such green jobs span industries ranging from solar-panel manufacturers to wind- and ocean-based energy production to electric-vehicle technologies.
The report on positions in 100 U.S. cities highlights a job boom in the sector that now counts 2.7 million jobs. The Brookings Institution figures the industry contributed exported goods and services valued at $53.9 billion in 2009 —
— Blue-collar workers may want to trade for “green-collar” jobs. Median wages for clean-tech jobs were $46,343, compared with $38,616 for all other occupations across the country.”
So, this is not a trend or a political play for voters; it is a reality that is and will continue to change, develop and become stronger on its own, policy or no policy. Now is the time to make a conscious choice if you are looking for opportunities, whether transitioning to this innovative field or starting a life in the workforce.
For more information about how to pursue a clean energy career, or simply general specialized training. The Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency & Renewable (EERE) web page has some links to colleges and universities, training centers or seminars; or the Association of Energy Service Professionals (AESP) has important information as well.