The Board of Directors of Gridwise Alliance has released, “The US Smart Grid Revolution: Smart Grid Workforce Trends 2011,” a new report that examines how the continued development and deployment of smart grid impacts the electric energy industry workforce. The report, prepared by global consulting, testing and certification firm, KEMA, stresses the important role education initiatives play in maximizing improvements for all those connected to the electric system.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Job creation and the development of an industry native to the United States is a national priority.
  • Continuous investment in the smart grid sector has expanded opportunities across the entire electric energy industry.
  • Smart grid continues to be a primary example of a technological area that is ripe with opportunity and ready for continued innovation and creativity.
  • To maximize the potential for economic growth, America must both encourage young talent to enter the electric energy industry and retrain current employees in the new skills required to modernize the grid.

“This report demonstrates the great potential that modernizing the electric grid holds to advancing the American economy,” said Gridwise Alliance Chairman Bob Shapard. “The Alliance has long advocated that public-private partnerships are an instrumental component to growing our nation’s energy workforce and ultimately strengthening the economy. As these findings show, the future of the workforce depends heavily on collaboration among industry, academia, and government, and will require reform in all sectors of society, including education, technology and customer service.”

Education and training for existing and future smart grid workers is of paramount concern. The report emphasizes that a successful organizational transition to the smart grid and smart grid job creation and growth must include:

  • Designing retraining programs that speak directly to the training gaps of existing electric energy industry workers;
  • Designing engineering and technical curricula for future employees that resonate with the needs of the smart grid workforce, such as broad analytical skills, strong engineering fundamentals, and strong business acumen;
  • Designing retraining efforts to familiarize workers with smart grid technology and systems; and
  • Educating current students who will be the smart grid workforce of tomorrow.

Within the current electrical energy workforce, employees will need to develop higher level skill sets. Managing new communications infrastructure, data management, customer service and strategy development initiatives and processes are areas where the new smart grid workforce will need to be especially proficient. Retrained and new employees possessing the required higher skills set will benefit from significantly higher wages, an economic benefit for both the employee and the American economy at large.