Jobs & Workforce Development | Alliance to Save Energy

Jobs & Workforce Development

Jobs & Workforce Development

Energy efficiency is the workhorse of the clean energy economy. Prior to COVID-19, the efficiency sector employed nearly 2.4 million workers and was one of the fastest growing in the energy field. While the pandemic threatens these gains, we know that smart policies and investments in energy efficiency will be key to getting American workers back on the job.

Energy efficiency is a labor-intensive industry that stimulates nationwide economic activity and job creation in urban and rural areas alike. The nearly 2.4 million efficiency workers estimated in the 2020 U.S. Energy and Employment Report are more than 12 times the number of jobs in the U.S. coal industry and six times that of the wind and solar industries combined. Construction and manufacturing accounts for 70% of efficiency jobs, with workers retrofitting buildings and manufacturing high-efficiency equipment including air conditioners, windows, furnaces, and insulation. Additionally, eight in 10 efficiency companies are small businesses with fewer than 20 employees, and efficiency jobs can be found in 99.7% of counties in the United States.

In 2019, energy efficiency employed more than 12 times the number of jobs as the U.S. coal industry and six times that of the wind and solar industries combined.

COVID-19 has hit the efficiency workforce hard. The latest jobs report shows that nearly 350,000 energy efficiency workers are unemployed as a direct result of COVID-19. Jobs are not coming back on their own any time soon: In fact, it would take nearly 15 years at the current growth rate just to return employment to pre-pandemic levels.

But with smart policies and priorities in place, efficiency is well-positioned to not only rebound, but stimulate economic recovery across the board. Recent analysis from ACEEE found that 1.3 million jobs would be created through a suite of energy efficiency policy proposals, including expanding building tax credits and retrofitting homes and businesses.

Beyond the immediate challenges of the pandemic, we also need to prepare the efficiency workforce of the future. Efficiency companies already report difficulty in finding qualified workers, and those challenges will likely grow as new technologies and innovations change what efficiency looks like, with increased digitalization, connectivity, and sophisticated systems. The Alliance is committed to educating decision-makers and the public about energy efficiency’s role in creating jobs and economic activity, and supporting workforce development programs to train and develop the next generation of efficiency workers.

The U.S. Energy and Employment Report shows clearly the need for the development of a 21st Century energy efficiency workforce. By increasing skills, the energy sector can continue its great strides in energy efficiency while also helping to revive underserved communities through expanded job opportunities.

- Melanie A. Kenderdine, Principal, Energy Futures Initiative

 

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