Green jobs training programs go beyond home weatherization and energy auditors. Recently the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced nearly $100 million in grant awards for smart grid workforce training and development programs. As the nation moves towards adoption of smart grid technology, today’s electrical and utility workers will need to have more advanced training in order to support the new system.
The $95 million in grant funds will be awarded to 54 smart grid workforce training and development programs. The organizations that have received the funding estimate that in total nearly 30,000 Americans will receive smart grid training.
“Building and operating smart grid infrastructure will put tens of thousands of Americans to work,” said Secretary Chu. “Today's investment will help ensure that we have the workforce in place to meet this need. This is a great opportunity for workers to upgrade their skills and earn more, or for laid off workers from other industries to start fresh in a new and growing field.” Source: DOE
The 54 training projects fall under two different categories: smart grid workforce training and developing and enhancing workforce training programs for the electric power sector. More than half of the grant funds went specifically to smart grid workforce training - $57.7 million. The 21 projects that have received smart grid funding will not only provide advanced training to electric utility workers but also provide new hire training for those in underserved communities as well as military veterans.
For example, the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority Company in Fort Defiance, Arizona received more than $700,000 for its workforce training program. This allows members of the Navajo Nation to gain the skills needed to obtain a good, green job.
The balance of the funding went to 33 projects that work on developing these training programs. More than $41 million was awarded to universities, colleges, and technical schools in order to create new training programs to help the American workforce meet the demands that will be created by smart grid technology.
One program that received funding from the latest round of grants is the Georgia Tech Research Corporation/NEETRAC in Atlanta. The group received nearly $650,000 to develop a training program for line crews and engineers. This training program will allow this group of utility workers to design, install, and maintain high reliability next generation networks.
For a list of all of the projects that received grant funding, download Workforce Training for the Electric Power Sector (PDF).