Update: Enhanced Energy Industry Fundamentals Curriculum
CEWD is enhancing the current Energy Industry Fundamentals Curriculum as part of its work to ensure a skilled, diverse energy workforce. More than 500,000 students will complete the new EIF curriculum over the next ten years, especially those from systemically marginalized communities who are least likely to be familiar with energy careers. As we look at expected hiring demand, the need to engage with students about America’s Clean Energy Future, and the competition that exists with other industries vying for talent, exposing students to energy and its dynamic career opportunities is an essential priority for the industry. The enhanced curriculum is expected to debut in the fall of 2024.
The existing EIF program is a 130-hour course that educates learners in high schools and technical schools about energy. The certificate-based program was developed 10 years ago; its content and delivery modality must be updated to excite students and educators about America’s Clean Energy Future and the careers it will enable.
The energy industry will hire hundreds of thousands of employees over the next several years for skilled trade jobs, engineering positions, cyber-security, and other roles. There has never been a greater need to expose students to energy careers and demonstrate the need for innovators, technical thinkers, and those who can support the future of energy than now. Educators are clamoring for relevant, forward-looking curriculum. The modernized Energy Industry Fundamentals curriculum will answer that need.
Further, there is almost universal recognition that the energy workforce should better reflect communities and customers served. While numerous initiatives are underway to increase diversity, much remains to be done as the energy workforce is comprised of only 22% women and 24% people who are racially diverse. We must intentionally expose systemically marginalized people to energy careers and prepare them for employment success. The modernized and turn-key EIF curriculum, combined with strategies to push that education into under-served communities, will be such a catalyst. Such actions will offer equity support, which in turn will provide significant opportunities for economic development and empowerment.
The National Urban League (NUL) wrote, “for decades industry experts and workforce advocates have believed a key element in achieving higher levels of African American and Latino employment in the energy industry is to increase the education and training of these groups as well as strengthening overall skills in the critical Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. However, from an early age, many African Americans and communities of color are at a disadvantage. Less than one-third of public high schools serving predominantly African American students offer calculus.” NUL stresses that “with the right emphasis, training, and prep, growth opportunities in employment among African Americans and Latinos in the energy industry are good.”
The American Association of University Women suggests women don’t fare much better in STEM careers, noting “women make up only 28% of the workforce in STEM, and men vastly outnumber women majoring in most STEM fields in college.”
EIF will create education experiences that identify and prepare students for the industry’s workforce, especially marginalized students, as many schools are currently ill-equipped to do so.
CEWD and its stakeholders are redesigning the core curriculum so that it represents the energy industry of today and tomorrow. The new, student-centric program will introduce learners to energy careers in a dynamic fashion, offering interactive and personalized experiences, with a modular design that can be embedded in existing programs or offered as a stand-alone course. Students will earn an industry-recognized credential and can earn additional stackable credentials and post-secondary degrees while gaining familiarity with exciting opportunities in the industry.