As entire industries begin moving toward hybrid, electrified, and advanced power sources, a new set of talent and expertise is required in the workforce. In 2018, advanced clean energy jobs outnumbered fossil fuel jobs by four to one in the Midwest. Today, Asia and Europe are ahead of the U.S., as the needs for advanced power and batteries have grown exponentially.

The state of Indiana is now well on its way to leading a new job growth with projects in the electrification of private and public transportation, energy production plants converting from coal to renewables, advanced energy storage (battery) needs growth exponentially in the connected Internet of Things (IoT), and the ramp up of autonomous vehicles.

In order to attract and retain the necessary talent, companies and academic institutions are collaborating on programs and outreach. The Battery Innovation Center and Vincennes University have  joined forces to further educate current energy industry employees with a specialized curriculum in advanced battery storage systems. These multiple short courses offerings have been completed by over 400 attendees thus far, from companies like Cummins, Stanley Black and Decker, Rolls-Royce, Duke Energy and Allison Transmission.

Vincennes University is also working to take current curriculum around existing technician and diesel technician programs and expand to include hybrid and electrified powertrains. Several other institutions like Purdue University and Indiana State University are building awareness to the needs of certifications and degree paths for new and working students in batteries, advanced materials, and IoT. In order to meet the demand for these energy sector jobs, curriculum will need to include intensive, cutting-edge training in subjects like advanced battery architecture, hybridization, diesel technology, electrification, clean energy systems, materials science, chemistry, security, and safety processes.  

There is already an overwhelming need in the U.S. for graduates who can fulfill these battery and energy storage manufacturing, technician, engineering and design, and research needs. These programs will also provide the skill-up capabilities to bring the existing workforce forward to also help fill this quickly emerging sector. This educated workforce has application in transportation and autonomous vehicles, renewable energy, and IoT, among others.Today we hear from the smallest to the biggest names in the industries that they need talent that understands energy storage systems and batteries, have unfulfilled immediate job openings, and are seeking access to training real-time for sustaining workforce in this rapidly expanding area.

Growing the energy storage sector in Indiana, along with building a global presence, is a large focus of the Battery Innovation Center.  Based in the southern part of the state, close to WestGate Technology Park and NSWC Crane, its advanced battery storage prototyping and testing/validation capabilities influence national and global companies to place employees in Indiana and in their regions.

The BIC’s workforce needs mirror the gaps many other companies are beginning to experience. Overall, the talent development endeavors taken on by BIC and its many partners will benefit the industry as a whole. The steps towards energy industry innovation are generating the need for new Hoosier hires, bolstering the job market for energy-related positions. This, combined with programs targeted towards skilling-up the existing workforce and educating new talent, will continue creating a positive outlook for the future of advance power in Indiana and abroad.

Ben Wrightsman is chief executive officer of the Battery Innovation Center.

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