science-class460_1111495cAmerica’s energy crisis could be worsened by  a looming education crisis.   The DOE, as well as AEL, have expressed concern in the past over a lack of education and work force training in energy related fields.  Today, Kristina Johnson, the Under Secretary for Energy, wrote on this subject as well as the DOE’s Energy Education and Workforce Development Request for Information (RFI),

“Reports like this one from the nonprofit Center for Energy Workforce Development are a cause for concern, as they warn that 40% – 60% of the current energy utility workforce could be eligible to retire by 2012. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory cautions that a shortage of training and skills is ‘a leading barrier to renewable energy and energy-efficiency growth.’”

The goal of the RFI is to gather data through September 3, 2010 to get a better sense of the “status, prevalence, quality, and gaps in education and workforce development relevant to energy technologies.”  The results will likely highlight what has become an astonishing truth, America is not preparing its students for one of the largest growth industries of the future.  This reality is well documented, just this year a report by the National Science Board pointed out that, “the United States has fallen from one of the top countries in terms of its ratio of natural science and engineering degrees to the college-age population to near the bottom of the 23 countries for which data are available.”

The emerging workforce and STEM education gaps, if not addressed, will jeopardize America’s ability to compete in a clean-energy economy. That is why earlier this year AEL strongly supported RE-ENERGYSE, a proposal to increase federal funding for education in clean-energy related fields by $74 million for universities, community and technical colleges, and K-12 schools.  It is also why 107 student body presidents signed a letter asking congress to pass the legislation.  Unfortunately RE-ENERGYSE was not passed and problem has not gone away, but is good to see the DOE continuing to lead the charge for an educated clean-energy workforce.