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The rapid developments in technology now underway in the energy sector will create profound changes in the way electricity is produced, distributed and utilized throughout the country. Electric utilities in the Pacific Northwest have identified the acquisition and implementation of “smart grid” systems as a top priority. These changes to our infrastructure will create both challenges and opportunities for the regional and national energy workforce. Electric utility jobs will change, and new jobs and skill sets will emerge as a result of this new technology.

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Along with the implementation of new “smarter” technologies, the energy sector is facing a looming labor shortage. More than 50 percent of the skilled workers in our regions utilities are eligible for retirement in the next 10 years. Recruiting, training and retaining new employees while also upgrading the skills of existing workers will become essential to ensuring that the future utility workforce is established and productive.

The Pacific Northwest Center of Excellence for Clean Energy is at the nexus of this technological and demographic shift and is working with industry, organized labor, education, and community partners to ensure a vibrant and highly skilled energy workforce for the next century.