Wind workforce webinar series to kick off #AmericanWindWeek 2020

Pursuing a career in the wind energy industry is a bet on a brighter, cleaner tomorrow. To help both industry employers recruit the best and brightest as well as provide students with the essential resources to set them on a path toward a rewarding career in the wind energy workforce, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in partnership with AWEA, is hosting a free, three-part Wind Workforce Webinar Series, Monday, August 10–Wednesday, August 12, as part of #AmericanWindWeek.

The virtual events will span topics such as key industry needs, the state of today’s wind energy education programs, challenges to satisfying workforce needs, and novel solutions to better meet them.

“The webinar series that we are putting together with AWEA was originally going to be part of a workforce pavilion at the CLEANPOWER conference in June,” said Corrie Christol, project leader, NREL. “We are eager to offer an exciting group of speakers and panel session via an entirely virtual format to discuss wind workforce challenges, highlight programs that are helping to develop the future wind workforce, and identify opportunities for industry members and others to engage in these ongoing efforts,” she said.  

Getting a Lay of the Land

Join us on Monday, August 10, from 2 p.m.–3 p.m. ET for the first event in the series, the “Understanding the Energy Workforce” webinar. The session will convene energy workforce experts to discuss the recently published 2020 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, highlighting clean tech employment, as well as exploring initial and ongoing impacts from COVID-19.

NREL will present preliminary findings from its investigation into gaps between industry and the future workforce from a recent survey effort. The event will drill down on key trends and insights from industry, educational institutions, and the workforce at large. Josh Williams from BW Research and NREL’s Jeremy Stefek will lead the session, moderated by the Center for New Energy Economy’s Suzanne Tegen.

Educate Early and Often

On Tuesday, August 11, Rebecca Lamb from the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project and Michael Arquin from KidWind will facilitate a panel discussion featuring educators, students, and industry representatives on “Expanding the Workforce Development Scope—Why it Pays to Start Young.” From 2 p.m.–3 p.m. ET, panelists will discuss the importance of and opportunities for partnerships in workforce development and renewable energy education for children.

The session, facilitated by Lamb, will feature a collection of six speakers who will discuss topics such as how their respective companies approach workforce development, why it is important to introduce renewable energy career options at a young age, how to justify investments in workforce development when immediate impact cannot be tracked, how renewable energy-geared education has influenced students’ career and education choices, and more.

Graduate and Undergraduate Preparation

The series will conclude with a webinar on Wednesday, August 12, from 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.: “The Higher Education Pipeline: Solutions to Connecting Industry & Potential Workforce.” The two-panel session, facilitated by NREL Group Manager for Water Power Elise DeGeorge, will offer an opportunity for industry to learn about the undergraduate and graduate programs that equip students with both hands-on experience and research and development opportunities in the wind energy industry.

The second panel will build upon the preliminary findings presented in the first webinar, discussing NREL’s latest workforce gaps analysis. The panel will consider opportunities for students to gain experience and will explore options for connecting industry and the potential workforce, examining examples from other renewable industries.

Through this innovative series, we can bring together industry and education to support a robust wind energy workforce of tomorrow, highlighting all the ways “Wind Builds the Future.”

Register for the Wind Workforce Webinar Series and learn more about #AmericanWindWeek 2020 and NREL’s wind energy research.

Greg Alvarez