Workforce Development

NREL's workforce development programs raise student awareness of wind energy career opportunities to meet the need for a highly skilled wind energy workforce.

Students at Collegiate Wind Competition.

NREL helps industry, academia, and government organizations understand land-based and offshore wind energy workforce needs and trends. Our hands-on, multidisciplinary programs and competitions help hundreds of students each year gain industry-relevant wind energy experience. From primary school through post-graduate research, our STEM-focused educational pathways support professional growth for the next generation of wind energy leaders.

National Wind Workforce Assessment

Featuring data from a survey of students, wind energy companies, wind employees, and education and training programs, NREL’s new report, National Wind Workforce Assessment: Challenges, Opportunities, and Future Needs, enables better understanding of current workforce challenges and identifies factors that could help narrow the wind workforce gap.

Workforce Analysis

NREL collects data from industry, educational institutions, and the potential workforce using qualitative and quantitative methods. In addition to the National Wind Workforce Assessment, recent NREL workforce analyses include:

The U.S. Offshore Wind Energy Workforce Assessment, which is the first national-level evaluation of the U.S. offshore wind energy industry’s workforce gaps and opportunities

Two studies published in 2022 that identify the reasons behind the wind energy workforce gap: Defining the Wind Energy Workforce Gap and Defining Wind Energy Experience

A 2019 report, The Wind Energy Workforce in the United States: Training, Hiring, and Future Needs, that identified the wind energy workforce gap—in which both wind energy employers and recent graduates/current workers report difficulty finding qualified applicants and open work positions.

Areas of Expertise

  • Workforce needs assessments
  • Economic impact and data analysis on workforce trends
  • Occupation and skills mapping
  • Education and training programs catalog
  • Estimating potential job growth—technology and development approach

Workforce Pathway Development

NREL develops and documents educational pathways that help students, transitioning professionals, and educators understand the skills needed to be successful in the wind energy workforce. Through the KidWind and National Energy Education Development projects, we provide teachers with wind energy curricula, professional development, and challenges for 6th–12th-grade students. We also support communication and collaboration among researchers, academia, and graduate students through the North American Wind Energy Academy.

Areas of Expertise

  • Wind-focused educational activities
  • Skill-pathway development
  • Stakeholder engagement around wind energy workforce needs, benefits, and challenges

Workforce and Educational Program Development

NREL works with industry and academia to support the development and implementation of innovative, hands-on educational programs. The Collegiate Wind Competition allows college students to gain hands-on, interdisciplinary wind energy experience.

Areas of Expertise

  • Workforce program development
  • Active student engagement
  • Industry, academia, and student collaboration
  • Prize and competition development and implementation

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