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NETL Releasing Pilot Training for Battery Workforce Initiative

NETL is launching a pilot training program for the Battery Workforce Initiative (BWI) — a national effort to ensure worker safety and open new pathways for careers in America’s fast-growing battery manufacturing sector.

BWI is a project of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In March, the agencies released BWI’s national guideline standards for registered apprenticeships for battery machine operators, which were created in conjunction with battery manufacturers, community colleges, and unions.

The guidelines laid out rigorous training requirements to support the skilled workforce needed to support the growing battery industry. Electric vehicle (EV) sales have quadrupled and nearly 300 new or expanded battery facilities have been announced in the past three years.

NETL is developing a pilot training program for each job position/responsibility that will be used to develop a DOL-approved credential and shared it with community colleges and other training providers.

The United States is expected to double its manufacturing capacity by 2025, with more than 10 new battery manufacturing plants expected to be operational in the next five years. As of 2020, U.S. capacity of global EV lithium-ion cell manufacturing was approximately 59 GWh. That number is expected to grow to 224 GWh by 2025. To keep up with this demand and retain a competitive manufacturing base, the United States needs a robust supply chain and skilled workforce to produce state-of-the-art, reliable EV and grid storage batteries at scale.

The NETL pilot training will include employer-based testing and validation programs that will test the effectiveness of draft training for high-priority job positions/responsibilities identified by the initiative.

According to DOE, the training standards will enable a rapid expansion of high-quality training and education programs in advanced battery manufacturing.

By facilitating upfront industry engagement and alignment on a complete package of training materials and guidelines, the DOE-DOL collaboration should speed up DOL’s approval process for new battery training programs and provides the foundation for national credentials. The BWI pilot training will create a clear pathway for the companies that are selected to leverage public funds for workforce development, meet the needs of battery manufacturers, and provide career-track pathways for workers to succeed and advance in the battery manufacturing industry. 

When the standards were announced in March, Bob Galyen, chief technology officer for NAATBatt, a trade association for advanced battery and energy storage technology, said training is important to meet a growing industry’s needs.

“After spending 48 years in the battery industry and having worked in the world’s largest lithium battery manufacturing operations, I know that training is the key to a successful battery industry,” Galyen said. “I congratulate the Department of Energy for bringing stakeholders together through the Battery Workforce Initiative to jumpstart the high-quality training the industry needs. BWI will accelerate our return to global technology leadership and help create more middle-class jobs.”

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By using its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.