Meeting Climate Goals: Midwest's Clean Energy Workforce Gains Momentum
Tuesday, July 25, 2023
As the world takes critical steps towards mitigating climate change, the Midwest is making strides in transitioning to clean energy. The energy efficiency sector has the largest share of the clean energy workforce in the Midwest, accounting for over 67 percent of the region's clean energy workforce.
The Midwest region is actively preparing its workforce to meet the demands of emerging industries such as electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy. The clean energy sector in the Midwest has seen significant growth, with energy efficiency, EV manufacturing, and solar power leading the charge. According to the 2021 U.S. Energy Employment Report, clean energy companies employed over 714,000 Midwesterners at the end of 2021, a 5 percent increase from 2020. This growth marked a return to rapid growth after a decline in 2020. Approximately 55 percent of the clean energy jobs lost during the COVID-19 economic downturn were regained. Clean energy jobs in the Midwest grew almost 40 percent faster than the overall economy in 2021.
Clean Energy Employment in the Midwest
In 2021, the clean energy industry in the Midwest experienced a 5% increase in employment, bouncing back from the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The energy efficiency sector stands out as the largest employer in the region, contributing to more than two-thirds of the clean energy workforce. This sector optimizes energy consumption in buildings, industries, and transportation, reduces carbon emissions, and promotes sustainability.
The Midwest has also witnessed significant growth in the advanced transportation sector, particularly in electric vehicle manufacturing. As the demand for EVs continues to rise, states like Ohio are implementing strategic plans to strengthen and expand their advanced manufacturing workforce specific to electric vehicles. Ohio's Electric Vehicle Workforce Strategy, developed in collaboration with industry partners, employers, and education institutions, identifies and addresses workforce gaps to meet the increasing demand for EVs.
Renewable energy, especially solar, has also made strides in the Midwest. This sector offers employment opportunities in solar panel installation, maintenance, and research. Alongside these developments, the region has recognized the need for a skilled workforce to support clean energy initiatives further.
Some State Initiatives to Prepare the Workforce
Indiana has taken the initiative to prepare its workforce for clean energy industries through the Energy Academy program. In partnership with NIPSCO, the LaPorte County CTE Energy Academy equips students with hands-on experience using state-of-the-art equipment in the classroom and during internships. This comprehensive program focuses on electronics, energy, and utility industries, providing students with valuable NCCER certifications in Electrical and Alternative Energy.
Under the leadership of Lt. Governor Jon Husted and the Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation (OWT), Ohio introduced the Electric Vehicle (EV) Workforce Strategy in June 2023. Collaborating with industry partners, educational institutions, and community organizations, Ohio aims to address workforce gaps in advanced manufacturing related to electric vehicles. This strategic plan will equip the state's workforce with the necessary skills and knowledge to support the growing EV industry.
Illinois has made remarkable strides in advancing its clean energy workforce through the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA). This comprehensive energy legislation, signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker in 2021, incentivizes renewable energy development, accelerates electric vehicle adoption, and creates statewide clean energy workforce training programs. The Clean Jobs Workforce Network Program comprises 13 hubs across the state, offering training, certification preparation, and skill development for entry-level jobs in clean energy-related industries. Recently, Governor Pritzker announced $6 million in funding for the Energy Transition Navigators Program, encouraging priority populations to participate in CEJA clean energy workforce and contractor development programs.
The Midwest Region: Shaping the Future of Clean Energy
The Midwest is embracing clean energy as a path forward to combat climate change and promote sustainability. With the rising energy efficiency, electric vehicle manufacturing, and renewable energy sectors, states in the region are actively preparing their workforce to meet the demands of these emerging industries. Initiatives like the Energy Academy in Indiana, Ohio's Electric Vehicle Workforce Strategy, and Illinois' Clean Jobs Workforce Network Program and Energy Transition Navigators demonstrate the region's commitment to building a skilled and equitable clean energy workforce. As these efforts continue, the Midwest will undoubtedly play a crucial role in shaping the future of clean energy in the United States.
MidAmerica EDC members are dedicated economic development professionals who share best practices and are a great resource for contacting site selectors, advancing regional economic development programs, and accessing thought leadership. Contact us here today to learn more.