Energy Boom Needs Skilled Workers

October 19, 2012

By Sean Hackbarth

As if oil and gas permit restrictions on federal lands and ill-considered regulation weren’t big enough obstacles to energy development, the lack of skilled workers is also hamstringing the energy industry and our economy.

At The Huffington Post, David Holt of the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) discusses the skills gap that’s especially apparent in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. He writes:

Increasing numbers of engineers, scientists, geologists, electricians, ecologists, technicians and climatologists will be needed to advance environmentally and economically friendly solutions that boost domestic energy production, diversify our energy supply and ensure efficient use of resources in order to meet future energy demand.

One way to close this gap is through events like CEA’s Energy Day Festival, where scientists inspire children to study STEM through hands-on energy demonstrations.

Holt also recommends education paths other than a traditional four-year college degree:

On-the-job training combined with continuing education at a community college or a two- or four-year university allows students graduating high school to begin pursuing a career in specialized fields while furthering their education. In fact, oftentimes qualified workers can find tuition assistance or free classes from their employers or local union. Furthermore, companies, trade associations and labor groups increasingly collaborate with local education institutions to ensure targeted training, ultimately increasing the efficiency of an employee's time in the classroom.

Additional recommendations on improving STEM education can be found in The Case for Being Bold: A New Agenda for Business in Improving STEM Education put out last year by the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce.

America is fortunate to be endowed with tremendous energy resources. One challenge is to improve the skills of our human resources to take advantage of this.

Crossposted from FreeEnterprise.com.

Sean Hackbarth is a blogger for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.