What is a Clean Energy Job?
Effective planning for future workforce training relies on the ability to predict and meet the needs of industry. Contemplating workforce needs of the future clean energy economy has proven notoriously tricky. A precise definition of clean energy is a moving target, one that shifts with fast developing technologies, industry needs and governmental priorities. REAP’s definition of clean energy is broad and straightforward: renewable energy and energy efficiency. Organizations like the Brookings Institute and the Pew Charitable Trust are more expansive in their definition of the clean energy economy: a sector that “generates jobs, businesses and investments while expanding clean energy production, increasing energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, waste and pollution, and conserving water and other natural resources.” The ambiguity here is intentional and understandable, but the utility of this definition suffers when nearly every occupation under the sun can be construed as “clean”. Certainly, an Aleut gardener working in a shipping container retrofitted with LED lights and an air-source heat pump is a clean energy worker. But, is the conscientious Haul Road truck driver who never idles the rig for more than five minutes really a member of the “clean” or “green” workforce? A young Alaskan contemplating training for a career in the clean energy economy is right to wonder, What exactly does a clean energy occupation look like?
The following CTE gap analysis seeks to answer this question for Alaska – as well as the implications for trainings that are appropriate to Alaska’s clean energy transformation.