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A Year After Clean Economy Act, VA Sees Renewable Jobs Expand

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Friday, June 4, 2021   

CORRECTION: The organization that put out the report on clean energy jobs is Environmental Entrepreneurs. An earlier version misstated the name. (10:30am EST June 17, 2021)


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- One year after Virginia adopted its Clean Economy Act, workforce development and new jobs in clean energy are booming in the state, as its economy expands into renewable-energy industries.

Shawn Avery, president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Workforce Council, said wind power, especially, has taken off in the Virginia Beach area. The Council partners with training programs and community colleges to place workers in wind and solar jobs.

He noted the jobs are popular with young people who want to make a difference, and also attract workers moving from coal and manufacturing jobs.

"In many of the jobs that are going to be needed offshore, a lot of the skill sets are very much the same, from welding to electronics," Avery explained. "So, there's a real correspondence to the jobs in manufacturing, to also the jobs in the clean-energy economy."

This week, Dominion Energy announced an international partnership to build the nation's first offshore wind-turbine installation ship. Its home port will be Hampton Roads, and it is expected to generate hundreds of jobs building wind farms off the East Coast.

This year, New College Institute in Martinsville began offering certification training for workers looking to move into wind-energy careers.

Karen Jackson, interim executive director of the New College Institute, pointed out wind turbine construction off the Virginia Beach coast will expand. As a result, she expects growth for a range of career opportunities, from welders to accountants, to safety technicians.

"It's going to range from data scientists all the way up through marine biologists and engineers, the turbine workers that we're training," Jackson outlined. "It runs the gamut. And I think people are thinking very narrowly about the career opportunities. Really, it's going to touch a very, very wide spectrum of careers."

Virginia ranks 10th in the nation in hiring for clean-energy jobs with more than 88,000, according to a new report by Energy Entrepreneurs.

Despite losing some renewable jobs during the pandemic, the state's clean-energy jobs growth was 6.5% from June to December 2020.


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