While the Trump administration shows a preference for fossil fuel industries, some lawmakers believe the federal government should lead the way toward renewables and efficiency.
Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., who is a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, recently introduced legislation that directs the government to create good-paying, clean-energy jobs. The Energy Workforce for the 21st Century Act sets standards and goals for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to meet the needs of the growing clean-energy workforce and to increase the participation of women and minorities throughout the energy sector.
“This bill will make sure our community colleges and universities are working closely with businesses and our national labs to prepare workers for good-paying clean-energy jobs,” Heinrich said.
He said that the law was developed with input from across the board, including the oil, gas, coal, renewable, nuclear, utility, energy-intensive and advanced manufacturing industries.
If passed, the law would direct the DOE to carry out a program to improve education and training for energy and manufacturing-related jobs. It would make educating and training underrepresented groups for these fields a national priority.
The law would provide assistance in the form of grants, technical expertise, mentorships and partnerships to community colleges, workforce-development organizations and minority-serving institutions. It also would establish a data clearinghouse to maintain information on training and workforce-development programs for energy-related jobs. The clearinghouse will act as a resource for schools and workforce-development and industry organizations that would like to create energy-related training programs.
Finally, the Heinrich bill would instruct the DOE to collaborate with the departments of Education, Labor and Commerce and the National Science Foundation to provide guidelines on skills needed in energy industries.