Topics Of Interest
IREC Launches New Website for National Program to Grow Clean Energy Expertise of Electric Utility Workforce
Several workforce challenges face the electric utility sector: aging utility workers, the large number of imminent retirements of utility engineers, a decline in power engineering educational programs, and faculty retirements in U.S. universities. At the same time there is a critical need to upgrade the curriculum of power systems engineering programs to address current and anticipated changes, specifically regarding clean energy technologies.
Launched by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) is a new The website for GEARED - Grid Engineering for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment. As National Network Administrator of GEARED, IREC is helping facilitate and support efforts of the Distributed Technology Training Consortia (DTTC) created by the U.S. Department of Energy's Sun Shot Initiative. The goal is to build a national framework for power systems training and curriculum that will grow the power engineering workforce.
A year and a half into the five-year The GEARED project, the partners are identifying and sharing best practices and industry workforce standards that will build the expertise and preparedness of current and future electric utility sector professionals--specifically to accommodate high penetrations of solar and other distributed technologies. GEARED is also helping foster student interest and expertise in the utility sector.
Among several unique outcomes of GEARED is an annual student-centered education and peer research exchange conference, the first of which was held in the fall of 2014, where students can meet and learn alongside renewable energy professionals from the electric utility industry.
The goal is to create a national network of centers and professionals that support power systems training and curriculum development based on research, development, data generation, collection, analysis and simulation.
Central to the GEARED project is the Distributed Technology Training Consortia. Composed of three regional consortiums, each with multiple universities, utility and industry partners, the collaborators are working toward the infusion of power systems analysis and R&D into training activities such as curriculum and short course development, internships and co-ops, and continuing education.
The project leads of the Distributed Technology Training Consortia include:
- University of Central Florida: Foundations for Engineering Education for Distributed Energy Resources
- Missouri University of Science and Technology: Mid-America Regional Micro grid Education and Training Consortium
- The Electric Power Research Institute: The Center for Grid Engineering Education
The Energy Department's Sun Shot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade. For more information, visit www.energy.gov/sunshot.
AARP Releases New Report - "A Business Case for Workers Age 50+: A Look at the Value of Experience 2015"
April 27 AARP news release:
A new AARP study debunks myths about age 50+ workers, showing that they have productive advantages that can make them a "critical component" of a successful business.
The report, "A Business Case for Workers Age 50+: A Look at the Value of Experience 2015," was prepared by Aon Hewitt, the global talent, retirement, and health solutions company of Aon plc. It finds that the business case for employing workers age 50+ has grown even stronger in the last 10 years, reinforcing a 2005 AARP study that found that these experienced workers are highly motivated, productive and cost effective.
"Leading employers across all industries value the expertise and experience of workers 50+ and know that recruiting, retaining and engaging them will improve their business results," said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins today in releasing the report.
USDA Launches Residential Youth Conservation Corps; Announces Opening of Application Period
April 27 blog post on the USDA website:
As a young man, Tom Tidwell had a summer job with the Forest Service as a member of a Youth Conservation Corps crew. Today, he is Chief of the Forest Service, overseeing an agency of forty thousand employees that honors a mission to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
Chief Tidwell’s story is not entirely unique. There are other leaders in the Forest Service who were introduced to the agency through Youth Conservation Corps, including National Forest System Deputy Chief Leslie Weldon and a host of other Forest Service employees.
Youth Conservation Corps creates jobs for United States citizens, ages 15 to 18, across the nation, in national forests, national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands. It equips young people with skills for a new career, while awakening a love for America’s Great Outdoors in them. They work outdoors, learn about conservation stewardship, get trained in restoration skills necessary for field work, and develop a work ethic and interpersonal communication skills. Throughout their paid work experience, participants are supervised by – and gain valuable guidance from – the staff of the Forest Service and recognized partners.
This year, the Forest Service is pleased to launch its Residential YCC programs, which provide housing at select Youth Conservation Corps locations. Young men and women can apply online or by mailing in an application. With more than 80 percent of our country’s population living in urban areas, this new housing element seeks to reach that very population by expanding opportunities for our nation’s young people to relocate for work away from home.
Why should teens spend their summer on a Youth Conservation Corps crew? If you happen to meet Ben, age 18, and a member of the summer 2014 crew on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia, you’d get several good reasons. He spent the summer working 10-hour shifts, four days a week, gaining specialized construction skills he may not have obtained otherwise. He learned how to navigate in a team with other youth and Forest Service staff, staying on his feet aware of the Forest Service culture of emphasizing safety. Ben’s experience helped him realize he wanted to explore a more permanent career with the Forest Service.
Perhaps Ben will follow the path many agency leaders took, including some of its most senior leaders like Chief Tidwell and Deputy Chief Weldon. Hopefully there will be more stories like Ben and Chief Tidwell’s stories in the future, with this year’s emphasis on expanding Youth Conservation Corps opportunities to underrepresented youth. U.S. youth are encouraged to engage with the Forest Service to help ignite a newly engaged workforce of young people looking to make a difference in the world.
New Agreement to Facilitate U.S. Clusters and Member Businesses to Form Strategic Partnerships with the European Union
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews this week signed a Cooperation Arrangement between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROWTH). The agreement aims to makes it easier for clusters and their member businesses in the United States and the European Union to form strategic partnerships across the Atlantic.
During the signing ceremony, Deputy Secretary Andrews highlighted the Commerce Department’s commitment to supporting regional innovation clusters to help grow our economy, create jobs, and make small and medium-sized businesses more competitive in the global marketplace. He added that the agreement with DG GROWTH is a part of Commerce’s long-standing partnership with the European Commission on initiatives to promote trade, investment and innovation on both sides of the Atlantic.
Clusters are geographic concentrations of interconnected industries and supporting organizations that make regions uniquely competitive for jobs and private investment. According to research from Harvard Business School's Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, regional clusters are a prominent feature of successful and growing economies: they drive regional competitiveness and entrepreneurship, and underlie new business growth. They also increase our nation’s global competitiveness.
The economies of the United States and the European Union (EU) account for about half of global GDP and a third of global trade. The $1 trillion in annual two-way trade supports roughly 13 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. The nearly $4 trillion in total transatlantic investments directly supports seven million American and European jobs, and millions more indirectly. United States-EU flows in research and development are the most intense between any two international partners, with mutual investments exceeding $60 billion annually. Millions of visitors crossing the Atlantic include entrepreneurs, researchers, teachers, and trainees, who contribute to U.S. and EU collaboration in research and development, innovation, and growth.
Through the Cooperation Arrangement signed today, Commerce and DG GROWTH will:
- Build a collaboration platform based on the new U.S. Cluster Mapping and Registry (clustermapping.us) and similar EU cluster mapping websites;
- Encourage cluster, cluster businesses and supporting organizations to voluntarily register on these websites in order to attract strategic partners across the Atlantic;
- Conduct outreach in the United States and the EU about the benefits of and opportunities for cluster cooperation;
- Organize matchmaking and networking opportunities at conferences and trade shows; and
- Exchange best practices on supporting the growth and development of clusters.
Commerce’s contribution will be led by the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the Economic Development Administration (EDA). ITA has a global network of experts located in more than 100 U.S. cities and 20 countries in the European Union that give U.S. businesses access to services, such as counseling on developing an international business strategy and increasing brand awareness abroad, and connects businesses with new markets, business partners and customers. In addition, ITA provides easy access to information about federal-level programs and services related to business investment. EDA funded the development of the U.S. Cluster Map and Registry, and leads the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and by preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.