Connecticut's energy sector has aggressive hiring plans according to a new survey released today, but a shortage of skilled workers makes meeting that demand increasingly difficult.
The 2017 Survey of Energy & Energy Efficiency Workforce Needs was commissioned by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and developed in collaboration with the CBIA Education & Workforce Partnership.
With rising national attention on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other energy solutions, Connecticut businesses see an increased demand for qualified workers in the energy sector.
Currently, there are 63,000 jobs in the energy industry at 5,600 businesses in Connecticut.
The largest share of these employees work in high efficiency HVAC and renewable heating and cooling firms, followed by traditional HVAC.
And this number is rising, with employers planning to increase hiring over the next five years.
Of those surveyed, 56% plan to hire in the next 12 months, 82% in the next three years, and 61% within five years.
"The state has responded robustly to the needs of the manufacturing sector," said Andrea Comer, Vice President of Workforce Strategies, CBIA Education & Workforce Partnership.
"While the need in terms of numbers in the energy sector may not be as high, the aging of the workforce is just as real.
"We must be committed to ensuring that all businesses in the state have the talent pipeline needed to thrive and contribute to our economy's health."
Businesses must have the talent pipeline needed to thrive and contribute to our economy's health.
The biggest barriers related to hiring these employees include lack of required technical skills/certifications (73%) and basic career competencies such as teamwork, communication, and problem-solving (45%).
"Statewide, we see a growing need for trained technicians to work in energy efficiency and weatherization programs," said Diane Duva, director of DEEP's Office of Energy Demand.
"We support efforts to close the gaps between workforce training and clean energy industry needs, including the Energy Management degree program at Tunxis Community College."
Addressing the Skills Shortage
To overcome Connecticut's entry-level energy and energy efficiency hiring challenges, CBIA and DEEP recommend the following:
- State regional workforce development boards should provide entry-level training in the energy sector for unemployed and underemployed individuals.
- Work-based learning programs that partner with the Connecticut technical high school system should provide training for in-demand energy efficiency positions.
- Support the establishment of a Connecticut Department of Labor apprenticeship program for the energy sector, similar to those funded for manufacturing, healthcare, and business services.
- Invest in community college-based stackable certificate and associate degree programs to fill gaps in training for entry-level and career changing employees in the practical skills needed by energy auditors, analysts, and building automation technicians.
- Replicate education programs that enhance 21st century soft skills.
The 2017 Survey of Energy & Energy Efficiency Workforce Needs was distributed to 820 businesses in April 2017, with 62 respondents for a 13.39% response rate and 4.6% margin of error with a 95% confidence level.