GetIntoEnergyCT.com connects businesses with future employees

By Lesia Winiarskyj

Recent storms have focused much attention on challenges facing Connecticut's energy industry. To help energy and green technology companies meet one of their biggest challenges: a future shortage of skilled workers: CBIA's Education Foundation has launched GetIntoEnergyCT.com., a new website funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Connecticut Green Jobs Partnership. Designed to help the industry expand its talent pool, the site features:

  • Day-in-the-life career videos
  • An employer locator
  • Internship opportunities
  • Scholarships
  • Current events, including energy-sector workshops, seminars, and career fairs
  • Toolkits for businesses and educators on organizing everything from classroom presentations to summer camps

The website is a project of the Connecticut Energy Workforce Development Consortium, a public-private partnership formed in 2009 to build a skilled workforce in traditional and renewable energy.

Chaired by Northeast Utilities and United Illuminating in collaboration with CBIA, the consortium: the first of its kind in New England: has more than 57 business members as well as stakeholders in education and government. The group's goals include building public awareness of the demand for energy workers; generating a sense of excitement around the industry; establishing best practices for attracting, training, and retaining employees, including pathways to continuing education, certification, and employment for high school and college graduates; and ensuring that Connecticut's training capacity meets the needs of energy-sector employers.

Turning Point

When it comes to meeting its workforce needs, the energy industry has reached a turning point, says Judy Resnick, executive director of CBIA's Education Foundation and a member of the consortium.

By some estimates, the average employee in the energy industry today is over 50 years old, almost 10 years older than the average American worker. Traditional energy suppliers, which include nuclear, natural gas, and electric companies, project losing half their current workforce to retirement in the next five to 10 years.

At the same time, planned upgrades, expansion, and maintenance of Connecticut's electric utility system are expected to create a wave of job opportunities: and workforce shortages: in the energy sector. Add to that the tremendous growth of the green energy sector: growth that's been fueled by the infusion of government funding to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency: and you begin to see the scope of the workforce crisis confronting the energy industry.

Powering Connecticut with Energy Jobs

Indeed, with the passage of the state's new energy law, the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority: Connecticut's new "green bank": anticipates a significant increase in the need for full-time energy workers.

PA 11-80: An Act Concerning Connecticut's Energy Future creates a $3 billion public investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, incentivizing the commercialization of and demand for clean energy sources and related enterprises. As such, it is expected to increase the demand for workers in many types of energy-sector jobs in areas such as solar PV installation, biomass, wind, small hydro, fuel cells, energy efficiency, and electric vehicle infrastructure.

"Connecticut cannot build and maintain infrastructure and develop new energy technologies," says Resnick, "without adequate numbers of skilled people to do the work. We need engineers, electricians, welders, metal workers, installers, technicians, construction managers, analysts, and scientists."

Get Into Energy Connecticut, she says, is a resource for employers to publicize energy-related opportunities at their companies and for job seekers, students, and instructors to see what types of careers are opening up and what it takes to succeed in them.

Click here for more information or to join the Connecticut Energy Workforce Development Consortium.

Lesia Winiarskyj is a writer/editor at CBIA. She can be reached at lesia.winiarskyj@cbia.com.