The next 15 years of continued technological advances and planned investment in American energy infrastructure will create some 1.5 million new energy jobs, according to U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who was in Pittsburgh on Friday to launch a partnership aimed at filling some of those positions with local veterans.
The public and private enterprise is slated to bring together energy sector businesses, universities, non-profits and research organizations, including the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown, W.Va., to help transition active duty personnel into specialized civilian energy and manufacturing jobs.
More than 260,000 local veterans and immediate family members are struggling to find employment, according the Veteran’s Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania.
“Pittsburgh is an ideal location to create the next-generation energy workforce, combining workforce training and advancing technologies,” Moniz told a roundtable of local leaders at the Energy Innovation Center in the Hill District.
“The National Energy Technology Laboratory, one of 17 federal energy laboratories in the U.S. is located here," he said. "There is a growing energy sector due to the emergence of the shale gas industry and there is strong support from community leaders. I think Pittsburgh is unique is bringing all of these strengths together in one place.”
The Allegheny Conference estimated the Pittsburgh region currently has over 25,000 open jobs, of which 2,500 are concentrated in energy and related manufacturing occupations. But researchers said the region is facing a growing disconnect; Pittsburgh needs at least 140,000 new workers as Baby Boomers retire over the coming years.
"We need to recruit, train and employ these workers to be ready to build and maintain our energy infrastructure and implement emerging technologies," Moniz said. "This is truly an under-appreciated opportunity for our nation. Now’s the time for us to take the lead and make our country more competitive globally.”
Allegheny Conference research found that military veterans possess the training, experience and teamwork skills that can make them highly effective in energy and manufacturing jobs.
The Energy Alliance of Greater Pittsburgh will report on the progress of this new partnership with participating federal agencies at the conference's next annual meeting Nov. 4.