Let’s Be Proactively Inclusive When Developing The Clean Energy Economy Workforce

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Recent increased international focus on climate change, including student protests, Earth Day celebrations & national discussions about a “Green New Deal” inspired me to consider development of the Clean Energy Economy workforce. The industry sectors with high concentrations of occupations involved in Clean Energy are destined for both near- and far-term growth. What proactive measures can be taken by education, industry & society to promote diversity & inclusion as this workforce is developed?

According to this article published by Axios, wages are high in occupations that are concentrated in the Clean Energy Economy, but diversity metrics show a disappointing lack of females and minorities compared to national cross-industry averages. This is similar to trends in Computer Science (CS) & Technology fields. Couragion’s primary data shows that students in typically underrepresented groups are more interested in pursuing CS careers outside of programming, especially design-centric and/or purpose-driven pathways.

When we interviewed Mandy about her career as a Mechanical Engineer in Clean Energy, she said “I want more women to work with”. Relatively high female representation in management positions indicate that it’s likely more of Mandy’s future colleagues will be women.

When we interviewed Mandy about her career as a Mechanical Engineer in Clean Energy, she said “I want more women to work with”. Relatively high female representation in management positions indicate that it’s likely more of Mandy’s future colleagues will be women.

A role model Couragion features as a Clean Energy industry professional is Mandy, a female mechanical engineer who works on designing LEEDS certified buildings. Perhaps females are more likely to gravitate toward design-centric occupations in Clean Energy the same way they are in CS. Occupations currently highly concentrated in Clean Energy are historically male-dominated, including construction and waste removal. Just as professions such as User Experience (UX) Design & Project Management emerged from the “construction” of computing by programmers, we should expect a growing demand for analogous design & management jobs to power the Clean Energy Economy.

 A close look at the Brooking Institute’s research behind the aforementioned article shows that this trend may have already begun in Clean Energy. For example, there is currently a concentration of Electricians in the Clean Energy workforce, only 2% of which are female (compared to the 47% national average). However, 30% of General & Operations Managers in Clean Energy are female. This paints a particularly hopeful future, considering diverse management frequently breeds inclusive workforces & workplaces. By leveraging parallels from other industries undergoing exponential growth, we can predestine a better experience for underrepresented minorities in the all-important Clean Energy workforce.

Source: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2019.04_metro_Clean-Energy-Jobs_Report_Muro-Tomer-Shivaran-Kane_updated.pdf