Innovative Workforce Solutions to Help the Energy Industry Address Hiring, Training, and Retention Challenges
Since 2003, The U.S. Department of Labor has announced 22 investments totaling more than $37 million to address the workforce needs of the energy industry. The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration (ETA) has sought to understand and implement industry-identified strategies to confront critical workforce challenges. Through multiple forums, ETA has listened to employers, industry associations, labor-management organizations, and others in the energy industry regarding their efforts to identify challenges and implement effective workforce strategies. ETA has worked with the energy industry to identify its hiring, training, and retention challenges in its sectors ranging from oil and gas to utilities and mining.
The challenges faced are far too complex for one institution or industry sector to solve alone. Investments in the High Growth Job Training Initiative for the energy industry support comprehensive partnerships among employers, the public workforce system, and other entities that have developed innovative approaches to meet workforce needs while effectively helping workers find good jobs with good wages and promising career pathways. Solutions are based on the energy industry's priorities that address the following issues:
- Employers expect that up to half of their current workers will retire over the next five to 10 years.
- Stereotyping of energy careers as unstable, dirty, and low-skilled causes qualified workers, especially youth, to be unaware of the many highly skilled, good-paying career opportunities.
- Many training programs were scaled back or closed due to a downturn in the industry in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Programs have not ramped up at the same rate as the industry's need has rebounded.
- Employers in all sectors of the industry need workers who are more proficient in math, science, and, especially, technology than workers in the past.
- Creative solutions are necessary to help experienced workers, who will be retiring, transfer their knowledge and skills to their replacements and to help new workers gain necessary skills as quickly as possible.
- Few industry-defined, portable credentials have been developed in the energy industry. Additionally, some energy occupations lack unambiguous career ladders necessary for changing a perception that working in the industry is a viable career choice.
These energy industry grants are intended to provide genuine solutions, leadership, and models for partnerships that can be replicated in different parts of the country.