Vast Opportunities in the ECU Industry
California’s Energy, Construction and Utilities Sector covers a vast workplace, with occupations spanning from the generating plant to the wall socket. This sector creates thousands of jobs every year, driving expectations for educators to meet the continual workforce demand. However, many jobs go unfilled because of a lack of qualified workers - an increasingly difficult industry problem as the retirement rate for baby boomers increases.
Meeting this workforce demand requires a systematic approach to preparing adequate numbers of students with relevant skills and knowledge across electrical, mechanical, construction, architectural, and engineering disciplines.
Here is an overview of the industry employers, occupations, technologies, and market drivers so that educators may see where to focus on workplace priorities. programs – such as HVAC – are specific to the Advanced Energy sector, while others can benefit from curriculum that bridges skills gaps identified by industry.
The ECU industry is organized within a well-defined “value chain” for new construction and energy efficiency retrofits for commercial office buildings, as depicted in this graphic:
Energy efficiency occupations address the electrical and mechanical functions associated with the installation, operations, and maintenance of systems for the utility grid as well as commercial and industrial buildings. In the construction trades, energy efficiency is layered on top of traditional occupations such as electricians and sheet metal workers as a specialized set of knowledge and skills to reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint. Certain new specialties such as Energy Auditors are now clearly identified by the US Department of Labor, while other high-growth occupations, like Control Systems Technicians, are not yet clearly defined.
Utility occupations typically have well-defined job definitions, such as Power Line Installers and Repairers.
The table below identifies the priority occupations for the EE&U industry sector and links to their corresponding US Department of Labor definitions.
Occupation Links to US Department of Labor Definition:
Drivers for Job Growth
The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 sets mandates for energy efficiency and renewables in the state. Cap-and-Trade regulations enacted by the California Environmental Protection Agency penalize corporations for carbon emissions above a certain level, while the California Public Utilities Commission establishes incentives for energy efficiency through implementation of its Long Range Energy efficiency Strategic Plan.
The state’s Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs) - PG&E, Southern California Edison, SoCal Gas, and San Diego Gas and Electric - are the primary channels for incentives associated with these mandates, promoting statewide energy efficiency market growth and transformation. More than $30M annually is made available by the IOUs for energy efficiency workforce education and training.
Community College administrators and educators across the state are encouraged to create educational programs which may benefit from this funding stream.
Contact the ECU Sector Team to learn more.