Portland General Electric (PGE), on behalf of the Oregon Clean Energy Workforce Coalition, was selected this fall to receive a nearly $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to support the development of a skilled, diverse and robust clean energy workforce.
The Oregon Clean Energy Workforce Coalition (OCEWC), which PGE launched in 2022, is comprised of stakeholders from around the state working together to build equitable and inclusive career pathways to meet the dynamic needs of the energy sector. Coalition members include representatives from state, Tribal, and local governments, labor unions, workforce development boards, education and training providers, employers, and community-based organizations.
OCEWC will utilize this Critical Sectors Job Quality Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to scale and expand a pre-apprenticeship program at Oregon correctional facilities, engage youth in energy career learning opportunities, and collaborate with community-based organizations to improve access to clean energy jobs for career seekers throughout Oregon.
“PGE knows that creating a clean, reliable, and equitable energy future for Oregon requires investments in the people to help us build it,” said Anne Mersereau, PGE Vice President of Human Resources, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. “We’re proud to work with our coalition partners to build a more inclusive workforce that will meet the needs of employers today and in the future.”
According to a 2023 E2 study , the clean energy sector added jobs 53% faster than the rest of the U.S. economy. Despite this rapid growth, as Oregon works to achieve its ambitious emissions-reduction targets, many more workers from a variety of backgrounds are needed.
OCEWC programming funded by the U.S. DOL grant will focus on two historically marginalized populations that face particular barriers to workforce participation: adults in custody and young adults disengaged from school and work, often called “opportunity youth.” Through an expansion of the Union Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Training Oregon program, adults in custody will have the opportunity to participate in a 12-week construction trades skill-building course run by local unions – Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 1, Cement Masons Local 555, and Ironworkers Local 29. Upon release, graduates will have direct entry or preferential placement at an apprenticeship program, leading to quality jobs in high-demand fields. Engagement with opportunity youth will focus on exposure to the range of clean energy jobs available within Oregon. A new interactive website will guide youth and other jobseekers through potential pathways to clean energy careers.
While the industry’s most immediate needs include workers in the construction and electrical trades, Oregon also requires contractors to help residents weatherize their homes, electricians to build new electric vehicle charging infrastructure, engineers, creative professionals, data scientists, and more.
“There is truly a place for everyone to help build Oregon’s clean energy future,” said Mersereau. “Together with the OCEWC and this generous grant from the federal government, we can create new pathways to good paying jobs in the energy sector while simultaneously helping our state on the path to reduced emissions.”
In addition to implementing programs funded by this grant, the coalition will continue to identify opportunities to create new pathways to clean energy jobs for Oregonians of all genders, backgrounds, talents, and interests.