October 16-20 is “Careers in Energy Week” for the state of Illinois. Governor Rauner has recognized that a strong and diverse energy workforce is critical to support the large demand for safe, reliable and affordable energy to support Illinois families, communities and businesses. Energy efficiency is a key component to ensure affordability and reliability for years to come.
A recent Clean Jobs Midwest study found there are more than 93,000 energy efficiency jobs in Illinois and that clean energy jobs are growing 6x faster than overall jobs in the state. To help connect job-seekers with these opportunities, MEEA has several programs and resources available.
Training the Clean Energy Workforce
Building Operator Certification
MEEA has been supporting the energy efficiency workforce in Illinois primarily through two training programs. The Building Operator Certification (BOC) program provides career development training for individuals working in operations and maintenance of large commercial or institutional buildings, providing them the education needed to bring their skillset to the next level and focus their attention on low to no-cost operational improvements of existing energy-using systems. BOC provides students with the opportunity to earn an industry-recognized credential at an affordable rate, and Illinois military veterans are able to attend the training with a full tuition scholarship. BOC has been training facilities staff in Illinois since 2003, hosting 88 trainings and certifying over 1,200 graduates.
Illinois Home Performance
The Illinois Home Performance (IHP) program provides a suite of options for trade allies in the home performance industry to get involved and receive free or discounted trainings, equipment and rebates on industry-recognized trainings. IHP hosts the Building Science Training Series which covers a wide variety of building science topics for a discounted price. These trainings are great for seasoned individuals just looking to brush up or those who are new to the home performance industry and need to learn the basics. All the trainings are approved for BPI continuing education units. Along with the Building Science Training Series, IHP provides BPI rebates for people in Illinois achieving the Building Analyst or Building Envelope certifications. Trade allies can also take advantage of an equipment loan program which provides access to expensive diagnostic equipment at no charge - this can be particularly useful for individuals who are new to the home performance industry or are starting their own business, allowing them to get comfortable with the equipment before purchasing their own. Along with supporting those new businesses, IHP hosts a job board in their monthly newsletter, promoting any employment opportunities within the home performance industry.
Outside of the home performance trades, IHP subsidizes green trainings for real estate agents and appraisal professionals to earn their continuing education points. These courses equip those involved in selling homes with the tools necessary to talk about efficiency upgrades in a meaningful way so that the prospective buyer understands the value of their new home. The goal is that upgrades made now will result in a higher premium for the home at time of sale, and having the real estate industry on the same page is critical to making that connection.
EE 101: Helping New EE Professionals Get Acclimated
Beyond the programs run in Illinois, MEEA has an EE 101 training that was developed in an effort to support the influx of professionals entering the energy efficiency industry. The workshop covers a range of topics such as EE policies in the Midwest, the economic case for energy efficiency, rate design, utility structure, program design, relevant industry and membership organizations and useful mailing lists and news sources to stay current on industry news and trends. This workshop has been offered upon request to specific organizations and as a pre-conference workshop before the annual Midwest Energy Solutions Conference. MEEA also hosts a job board for positions at member companies, providing a central repository of information for many of the energy efficiency career options in the Midwest.