The transition to renewables is affecting many facets of the American economy, including a notable demographic shift occurring in the energy sector. Young professionals entering the workforce increasingly favor clean technology careers.
Photo Courtesy Justin Lim
Growth In Renewables
According to Deloitte’s 2022 Oil and Gas Industry Outlook, the average oil worker is 44. To help replenish their ranks as employees retire and to help shift their business models, Deloitte’s Outlook suggests, “Net-zero pioneers and green followers will most likely leverage this phase [of high oil prices boosting energy transition plans] to aggressively fund their bold vision of making sustainability their core business.”
To that end, young people are actively finding work in fields like solar and wind power, and the numbers reflect that. Business group E2 published a statistical study in 2022 of the clean energy sector as it began to boom in profit with a younger workforce. It found that 3.2 million Americans found employment in clean energy at the end of 2021.
As businesses continue to shift toward renewables, electric vehicles (EVs), and efficient energy systems, more young people perceive these industries as the future of the country’s economy.
Photo Courtesy Evgeniy Alyoshin
Not A New Trend
The downward trend in employment for oil specifically, however, is not new. Since 2015, employment rates have been declining and even college courses reflect this shift in the American workforce as only 400 graduated with degrees in oil-centric areas in 2022.
In turn, with global events like the Russia-Ukraine conflict, OPEC’s oil barrel production cuts, and the rise of renewables, traditional industry security is not what it used to be. This has supported a pivot toward sustainability within the industry and for the workforce.
“Covid allowed me to pivot,” Emma McConville told the “New York Times.” “Covid was an impetus for renewables, not just for me but for many of my colleagues.”
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Effects Of The IRA
The American economy is changing rapidly, especially with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). According to The Atlantic Swiss bank Credit Suisse said that more than $1.7 trillion could be spent across 10 years thanks to the federal tax credits awarded to households and businesses that install renewable energy generators or switch to EVs for personal or professional use. This push will drive more companies to make the switch to clean energy.
The emphasis on investment in clean tech grows daily, and even states that might be hesitant about abandoning oil or coal are likely to adapt to meet the IRA’s tax credit criteria.
In its report on the IRA’s potential economic explosion, Credit Suisse declared it “definitively changes the narrative from risk mitigation to opportunity capture.” All the available money will surely fuel further renewable job growth, making the industry more attractive to young people.