Energy jobs for the future: clean or fossil?


Energy jobs for the future: will they be clean or fossil? Two recent studies compared them, arriving at different conclusions.

Job creation within the energy sector has been an important topic during the U.S. presidential race. Both candidates, Trump and Biden, have advocated for one type of job versus the other.

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On Trump’s side, an energy transition may result in the loss of thousands of very well-paid employment positions. In fact, the President advocates for traditional energy policies that favor oil, natural gas, and coal production, dispensing from environmental regulation.

On the other hand, Biden thinks the future claims for green energy employment opportunities, which, according to him, are becoming increasingly competitive and high-paid. As the former Vice President stated in the last presidential debate, his policies would support a transition away from the oil industry.

Clean jobs, better jobs?

A group of environmental and clean energy organizations conformed by E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), and the Clean Energy Leadership Institute (CELI), released last week the Clean Jobs, Better Jobs report

The coalition’s goal was to understand and divulge knowledge regarding the quality of employment opportunities in clean energy-related industries.

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The report finds that clean energy jobs are slightly better paid than those concentrated in fossil fuel activities. Also, employment opportunities in the industry can provide representation benefits, such as access to union groups.

Besides, skilled tradespeople can address higher wages working on solar arrays or wind farms construction than in other energy activities.

Electricians, technicians, mechanics, and assemblers can make out at least $29 an hour, earning, on average, $2.50 more than in other occupations.

Oil and Gas: opportunities still concentrate here

On the other side, North America’s Building Trades Union (NABTU) surveyed skilled workers in energy related-construction trades.

NABTU’s report finds that respondents still detect better variety in projects, trades opportunities, skill development, and consistency in oil and gas construction jobs than those within the clean energy industry.

According to the survey, the industry’s workers still don’t acknowledge all the clean energy-related opportunities. That is why they consider projects in the oil and gas sector to have better wages and benefits than clean energy projects.

Besides, respondents consider fossil fuel projects to have longer durations, representing a valuable opportunity to achieve job stability.

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In that regard, the coronavirus pandemic has increased the need for stable and steady jobs, among many other consequences.

According to a Deloitte report, energy efficiency jobs were hardly and considerably hit by the Covid-19 containment measures. More than 345 thousand energy efficiency related-employees lose their jobs.

Before the pandemic’s onset, clean energy employment was among the most rapidly growing ones in the U.S. Last year, the sector accounted for more than 3.4 million workers.

However, the pandemic hit employment in the clean energy sector as well. Deloitte calculates a net loss of nearly 500 thousand positions for the industry.

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