Press Releases The Urban Institute Announces New $5 Million Funding Award to Create Tech Career Pathways in Renewable Energy Sector
‘CLEAN IT’ Project to Prepare Diverse Workforce for In-Demand Occupations in Renewable Energy
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WASHINGTON, DC, October 26, 2023 —Today, the Urban Institute announced a new $5 million award from the Employment and Training Administration at the US Department of Labor as part of the Building Pathways to Infrastructure Jobs Grant Program. The program invests in “public-private partnerships to develop, implement, and scale worker-centered sector strategy training programs…to meeting the goals of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).” The five-year award to Urban and its partners is designed to create new pathways to information technology (IT) careers in the clean and renewable energy sector.

Specifically, Urban’s CLEAN IT Pathways Project will partner with Per Scholas, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, and Communications Workers of America to provide training in tech skills and develop pre-apprenticeship to registered apprenticeship pathways in communities experiencing high growth in renewable energy, with a focus on connecting populations underrepresented in IT to new opportunities.

“The CLEAN IT initiative draws on Urban’s experience in both researching and implementing workforce and apprenticeship programs. It also expands a growing body of work at Urban aimed at ensuring traditionally marginalized communities are empowered to be resilient to climate change and able to benefit from the opportunities of a low-carbon future,” said Urban Institute President Sarah Rosen Wartell.

“I am excited to help design new pathways to great careers, with a particular focus on serving communities that have been historically underrepresented in tech,” said Deborah Kobes, senior fellow at Urban and co-lead of the project. “We look forward to working with partners across the country to expand tech training programs that will ensure the renewable energy industry has the talent it needs while also empowering workers and connecting them to high-quality careers.”

IT workers play a critical role in scaling renewable energy and supporting a wide range of technical needs, including data analytics to understand energy generation and demand, software development to build and automate systems for energy efficiency, and cybersecurity expertise to protect national energy supply and distribution. To help provide this industry with the skilled workforce it needs, this project will expand existing IT training programs at a national scale and create new career pathways for data analytics, software engineering, cybersecurity, and other IT jobs, helping participants prepare for and advance into middle- and high-skilled occupations.

“Evidence shows that pre-apprenticeships and registered apprenticeship programs increase equity while providing a strong return on investment for employers,” said Bhavani Arabandi, principal research associate at Urban and co-lead of the project. “I am excited that our CLEAN IT initiative will build new tech career pathways in renewable energy, particularly for people of color, women, rural workers, and individuals without a college degree who have faced greater barriers to breaking into this sector.”

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Research Areas Workforce Climate change, disasters, and community resilience
Tags Apprenticeships Climate mitigation, sustainability, energy and land use Job training Workforce development
Policy Centers Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population