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Workforce Development

A critical component of clean energy policy and program development is having a comprehensive understanding of the workforce needs in the clean energy sector. The clean energy sector is evolving rapidly and along with it, workforce development needs. Recognizing this, DEP’s Energy Programs Office contracted with BW Research to conduct clean energy labor market reviews including a workforce needs assessment for the state of Pennsylvania. 

This work included the data collection and analysis of current and projected energy jobs, and specific reports for clean energy jobs including renewable energy and energy efficiency jobs across the state using the 2019 and 2020 US Energy and Employment Report (USEER) data sets, released on the US Energy Jobs website. The contracts, funded through US Department of Energy's (DOE's) State Energy Program (SEP), resulted in the development of several deliverables: The 2021 Pennsylvania Energy Employment Report, the 2021 Pennsylvania Clean Energy Employment Report, the 2021 Pennsylvania Clean Energy Industry Workforce Development Needs Assessment & Gap Analysis, 2020 Pennsylvania Energy Employment Report, and the 2020 Pennsylvania Clean Energy Employment Report.

2021 Pennsylvania Energy Employment Report

The 2021 Pennsylvania Energy Employment Report is a follow up to the 2020 report that tracks energy employment across the state. This report provides energy employment data from 2017 through 2020 for the major energy technology sectors, their component sub-technologies, as well as key industry crosscuts, including natural gas, petroleum, coal, and nuclear. This year’s report is especially important as it follows the aftermath of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and provides important information on the state of Pennsylvania’s energy labor market and the impacts of the pandemic on energy sector employment. The report found that:

At the end of 2020, there were 249,890 energy workers across the state of Pennsylvania accounting for 4.5 percent of all jobs. Total energy employment declined by about seven percent, or nearly 19,400 jobs, compared to the last quarter of 2019, returning Pennsylvania back to a level of jobs seen in 2017. Job losses in the energy sector are on par with the statewide average. Between 2019 and 2020, Pennsylvania’s overall labor market also declined by roughly seven percent, shedding nearly 425,000 jobs. Employment declines were largely concentrated in Q2 2020 from March through May, at the peak of the economic contraction. Throughout the rest of the year, modest job gains were witnessed between June through December 2020, and in the first quarter of 2021, energy employment in Pennsylvania grew by an additional 0.7 percent, indicating that the energy sector will likely continue on a growth and recovery trend throughout the remainder of 2021.

2021 Pennsylvania Clean Energy Employment Report

The 2021 Pennsylvania Clean Energy Employment Report is a follow up to the 2020 report that tracks energy employment across the state. The report tracks clean energy jobs for each major clean energy technology sector and their component sub-technologies. In addition to job estimates by technology and sub-technology, the report details clean energy employment by value chain segment and county. This year’s report follows the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; together with historical clean energy employment figures, 2020 data provides valuable information on the impacts of the pandemic-induced economic recession on Pennsylvania’s clean energy labor market. The report found that:

At the end of 2020, there were just over 90,000 clean energy workers across Pennsylvania. Clean energy jobs in Pennsylvania declined by 7.4 percent compared to the 2020 Pennsylvania Clean Energy Employment report. The shock of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in job losses across the state. The clean energy sector shed roughly 7,200 workers between 2019 and 2020. The majority of job losses were concentrated in March through May, with modest employment growth witnessed throughout the remainder of 2020 from June through December. Between the last quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, Pennsylvania’s clean energy industry continued its rebound, growing by just under one percent in three months. This steady economic recovery signals that the clean energy economy will likely continue to see growth throughout the remainder of 2021.

2021 Pennsylvania Clean Energy Industry Workforce Development Needs Assessment & Gap Analysis

The 2021 Pennsylvania Clean Energy Industry Workforce Development Needs Assessment & Gap Analysis report identified what partnerships and programs can most effectively train and prepare the Pennsylvania workforce to meet the needs of clean energy businesses in the state. As mentioned in the 2020 Pennsylvania Clean Energy Employment Report, the clean energy industry had been a growing source of jobs in Pennsylvania for several years prior to the global pandemic. This report identifies how to best support continued job growth in the state’s clean energy technology sectors. Recommendations from the report include:

  • Facilitate on-the-job training opportunities and hands-on industry experience for workers through apprenticeships or internships.
  • Support curriculum sharing and procurement by facilitating round table discussions with clean energy employers, identifying key skills and certifications, then assist training providers in either finding curriculums already in use or in procuring nationally accredited curriculums.
  • Create a pipeline for displaced workers to transition into the clean energy workforce by supporting programs that connect these individuals to training providers in the state that give them basic knowledge and skills to prepare them to enter the clean energy workforce.
  • Promote manufacturer-specific certifications for clean energy technologies, such as air-source heat pumps or high-efficiency heating and cooling technologies.