U.S. Department of Energy Allocates $40.8 Million to Expand Workforce Training and Energy Efficiency Programs
Published 6:13 pm Friday, November 17, 2023
In line with President Biden’s Investing in America agenda and coinciding with National Apprenticeship Week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the selection of 17 new Industrial Assessment Centers (IAC) and the inaugural cohort of 10 Building Training and Assessment Centers (BTAC). These selections, made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will collectively receive $40.8 million to increase training opportunities for in-demand jobs and identify energy-saving opportunities in various organizations.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 commitment, over 75% of these awards will be directed toward organizations that serve disadvantaged communities. The aim is to reduce energy burdens and provide access to quality jobs for individuals facing barriers to employment.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm emphasized the importance of a skilled and diverse workforce in maintaining America’s global leadership in advanced manufacturing and energy-efficient buildings. Granholm stated, “Thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, DOE is doing even more to invest in workers and small businesses, helping us meet our clean energy goals while creating high-quality, good-paying jobs in communities across the country.”
The selected IACs and BTACs will deliver technical assistance and conduct assessments at small- and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) and commercial and institutional buildings. Expanding the existing network to 54 IACs and 10 BTACs across more than 25 states and territories aims to broaden clean energy career paths that do not require a four-year degree.
Of the 27 selected programs, 17 are based at community colleges, trade schools, and labor unions, including apprenticeship programs. These institutions will provide mentorship networks, scholarships, job placement assistance, and other support to ensure the success of the programs and the placement of trainees into green jobs.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is among the selected institutions participating in the IAC program. Jeremy Avins, the program manager for the Industrial Assessment Centers Program at the Department of Energy’s Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains, highlighted the program’s historical shift in making direct investments in institutions that train workers for high-quality jobs without requiring a bachelor’s degree.
Avins emphasized the significance of investing in manufacturing-heavy regions, especially those with small and mid-sized manufacturers, including minority and women-owned firms. The cybersecurity focus of the Mississippi Gulf Coast project was noted as particularly pronounced and unique among the selections.
The initial selections are set for three years, during which the programs aim to train over 3,000 students and incumbent manufacturing workers. Avins said the program has a dual purpose, serving as both a training ground for the next-generation clean energy and manufacturing workforce and providing low-cost technical assistance to help manufacturers improve productivity, reduce energy use, and enhance cybersecurity.