U.S. job growth remains sluggish, but many businesses in the energy sector are facing hiring difficulties. Aging workers in “traditional” energy fields — including oil, natural gas and electricity related services — are starting to retire, taking their expertise with them, and there are few applicants with the needed experience to take their place.
While expiring federal incentives create uncertainty over continued job growth in the booming wind and solar industries, finding workers to fill positions in the traditional energy sector has been a problem for years. In 2007, former President George W. Bush worked with the Department of Labor to create training programs that would bring new talent in the energy industry and allow older workers to retire without the company scrambling to fill positions.
When the initiative started, the Department of Labor noted that more jobs would become available in 5 to 10 years, since the average employee in the traditional energy field was over 50 and close to retiring.
Online job search giant Indeed.com has listings for more than 100,000 energy-related jobs. Many of these employers include electric and power companies, as well as government, small private companies and publicly traded corporations. The median salary for traditional energy-related jobs is about $60,000 per year, compared to about $45,000 for the average U.S. worker.