Analysts say clean energy has made its presence known within Iowa’s workforce. And a new report that predicts larger growth says the state should help prepare the next wave of workers. The findings, commissioned by Working-Nation show that Iowa currently has more than 13-thousand “green economy” jobs, such as wind-turbine technicians. And the state is on pace to increase that number by 18-percent over the next five years. Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development, says it goes beyond those producing these energy sources directly.
And the report says there’s nearly 600-thousand workers in Iowa who could be “re-skilled” into green jobs. But the authors say it will take a mix of employers, educators and policymakers to ensure those who make the switch are ready. That includes developing training and learning programs for a range of individuals, including recent high school graduates and underemployed adults.
Iowa Federation of Labor president Charlie Wishman says he’d like to see community conversations about transitions to clean energy. He says that especially can help people who have worked in sectors such as fossil fuels get a sense of what’s to come and where they fit in.
Iowa’s push to get a majority of its electricity from clean power has caught the attention of large-scale employers such as Amazon. Mak Heddens, of Power Up Iowa, says it would be a setback if the state fails to capitalize on that selling point.