Worker Shortage Affects the Entire US Energy Industry

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All parts of America’s energy industry are having trouble hiring workers, according to a new report.

A new report has found that lack of experience, training or technical skill was “almost universally cited as the top reason” for hiring difficulty across the five main energy sectors.

More than three-quarters of employers in areas like energy efficiency, electric power and vehicles cited this as their biggest employee problem in 2018. This is an increase of nearly seven percent over 2017, according to the report, conducted by the US Energy Department.

The US Energy and Employment Report analyzed five sectors: energy efficiency, electric power generation, transmission/distribution/storage, fuels and motor vehicles.

The report was produced by the Energy Futures Initiative, a think tank founded by former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and the National Association of State Energy Officials, with funding support from an array of energy groups and foundations, as well as state energy organizations.

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The report found that lack of experience, training or technical skill was “almost universally cited as the top reason” for the hiring difficulty across the five sectors.

More than half of construction employers in the energy efficiency sector, which has more than 1.3 million workers, said it was “very difficult” to hire new employees.

Jobs in coal-fired electric power generation saw a seven percent decrease in jobs between 2017 and 2018, for a total of 86,202 workers.

Employment in oil and gas extraction and related jobs is at its highest level since 2014, around 471,000.

Phil Jordan, vice president at BW Research Partnership, who managed the data collection and analysis for the report, said construction, which is the largest segment of US energy jobs, is not attracting enough workers.

“These jobs, which education and workforce policy professionals have dubbed ‘middle-skill jobs’, are often both highly skilled positions with very good pay and benefits, but you would not know that the way people talk about them. This exacerbates the problem because in addition to record low unemployment and strong construction sector employment growth, fewer and fewer young people are preparing themselves for careers in the field.”

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