A big part of NETL’s responsibility is to share knowledge. Sometimes the information we share provides a broader focus to the research data we develop that improves the way our nation uses fossil fuel energy resources. For example, through a recent online webinar, we shared analytical information to help business, industry, and higher education leaders make decisions to better prepare the next generation of energy and manufacturing workers.
The webinar was presented by NETL’s Regional Workforce Initiative (RWFI) – one of our focus areas that presents a platform for regional stakeholders to engage with NETL, as well as our sister national laboratories in collaborative workforce development efforts.
The energy and advanced manufacturing industries support millions of direct and indirect jobs in the U.S. economy. Making sure a trained workforce is available to take those jobs is critical. The RWFI works with sources inside and outside of the federal government to help identify skills and training gaps related to energy and advanced manufacturing. Then, RWFI goes a step further and makes that data available to the decision-makers who can put that knowledge to work.
Participants representing 40 different businesses, industries, and higher education institutions from throughout the Appalachian region tuned in to a recent RWFI webinar that was carefully crafted and presented to help energy-producing areas understand what is needed to keep the workforce strong and productive.
The presenters weren’t just from NETL. Representatives of the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) and the RAND Corporation joined NETL experts to talk about workforce development surveys and analysis.
According to the information presented in the webinar, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are in the top 15 states in fossil energy employment for the natural gas and coal sectors. The traditional energy efficiency sectors grew by almost 13 percent – more than 7.5 times the national average. Pennsylvania’s traditional energy and energy efficiency sectors grew by more than 7 percent, which is more than triple the national average. Most of those new jobs require a highly skilled workforce that has a background in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. However, nationally, more than 70 percent of employers are having difficulty finding qualified workers.
The webinar participants learned that colleges in all three states have workforce development programs, and employers provide on-the-job training. The problem surrounds the struggle to find workers with basic skills like time management, speaking, and writing.
By bringing the information to the attention of stakeholders and decision makers, NETL’s RWFI is helping provide the data necessary to adjust workforce preparation efforts throughout the region. It is just one way NETL is helping to create a healthy future for the nation’s energy economy and creating pathways toward American energy dominance.
An effective way to learn about NETL RWFI efforts is to subscribe to NETL RWFI E-Note, a monthly publication for workforce and economic development stakeholders. It includes announcements on regional and national workforce-related funding opportunities; meetings and conference notifications; reports and resources; and other energy workforce related information. For a subscription to RWFI E-Note, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Past communications can be accessed here.
As Acting Director of NETL, Sean I. Plasynski, Ph.D., builds on an extensive background in energy as he leads NETL in its mission to enhance the nation’s energy independence and protect the environment for future generations. For more information about Sean Plasynski's experience, please click here.