While state and federal governments have passed legislation and rules to prevent unfair employment practices, workforce diversity is often perceived as the responsibility of and an opportunity for private sector employers. Certainly, there is an important business case for employers to diversify their workforce: on average, companies that lack racial, ethnic, and gender representation exhibit poorer financial performance and report lower innovation revenue compared to their more diverse counterparts.
Yet, workforce diversity shortfalls also hold profound public policy implications for governments, including for the achievement of State Energy Offices’ energy, climate, and economic development goals. And while the U.S. energy sector has been an engine for economic growth and job creation, supporting millions of workers across the country, the energy workforce is not representative of the communities and markets it serves.
As policymaking bodies and conveners, State Energy Offices are well-positioned to inform energy, climate, and economic development policies, programs, and investments with a deeper understanding of the experiences of those who have been historically underrepresented in the workforce. To address this need, NASEO has partnered with a variety of thought leaders to promote exchanges, awareness-raising, and partnership-building in support of energy workforce diversity, access, and inclusion.
NASEO has partnered with the Energy Futures Initiative, BW Research Partnership, the U.S. Department of Energy, and a wide variety of state, local, industry, and philanthropic partners to support seminal publications about the size, composition, and trends in the U.S. energy workforce:
- Realizing the Workforce Potential of Infrastructure Investments: State Strategies to Advance Job Quality and Build Inclusive Workforces in Transportation and Clean Energy (2023) highlights specific funding streams in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act that states can leverage to support workforce needs and offers a framework to help states navigate the array of options available to foster broad access to the benefits of good quality jobs in two of the most significant infrastructure sectors. The full report, Executive Summary, and a two-page summary of the Framework for State Action are available to download at the links included.
- Opportunities for State and Territory Energy Offices to Prioritize Job Quality and Broaden Access in the Clean Energy Workforce summarizes key provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act that State and Territory Energy Offices can use to advance workforce development, access, and inclusion goals. It highlights funding opportunities for workforce-related programs as well as sections that allow for or encourage recipients to incorporate workforce development and equity considerations into grant planning and implementation. As a point of reference to aid states in budgeting and planning, it also provides per-participant cost estimates for apprenticeship programs and wraparound services, such as childcare, that may assist people with barriers to entry into the workforce to access and complete training programs.
- The annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) supplements federal Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data to provide a more complete picture of energy employment trends and projects across all energy production and distribution sectors, as well as key end-use and production technologies.
- Wages, Benefits, and Change (2020) offers a deeper understanding of the role of energy jobs in the U.S. economy and the lives of workers, highlighting the variety of factors that affect wages, job quality, and opportunity across the energy workforce.
- Diversity in the U.S. Energy Workforce: Data Findings to Inform State Energy, Climate, and Workforce Development Policies and Programs (2021) offers quantitative analyses on representation, inclusion, and access in the U.S. energy workforce.
- Energy Sector Workforce Diversity, Access, Inclusion, and the Policy Case for Investment: Recommendations for State Energy Office Action (2021) elevates best practices and promising strategies and partnerships for states interested in advancing energy sector workforce diversity.
Meetings and Events
NASEO has partnered with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Development Action Coalition (CDAC), with support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, to facilitate discussions and partnerships in energy sector workforce diversity.
- Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Workforce: Eliminating Barriers and Creating Opportunities for Enter Energy and STEM Careers through Innovative State-Academic Partnerships (May 13-14, 2021 – click here for meeting recordings)
- The Energy Workforce Landscape and Outlooks for Clean Energy Funding (December 14, 2021 – click here for meeting recording)
- State Energy Office-Minority Serving Institution Partnerships for Clean Energy Infrastructure and Workforce Development (January 11, 2022 – click here for meeting recording)
- The Role of Community Colleges and Two-Year Institutions in Energy Sector Workforce Development (April 13, 2022 - click here for meeting recording)
- Employer, Community, and Policymaker Approaches to Clean Energy Workforce Diversity and Inclusion (September 6, 2022)