E2’s presence was felt across North Carolina this month, with the release of our first-ever jobs report in the state and a series of listening sessions with business leaders and investors in partnership with the NC Department of Commerce and NC Sustainable Energy Association in 3 cities — Asheville, Charlotte and Raleigh.

The events provided business leaders the opportunity to engage in a dialogue around the policy recommendations needed in North Carolina to meet to the goals of Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 80 and ensure a skilled workforce, meet current and future workforce demands, and continue growth in these sectors long term.

Clean Jobs North Carolina 2019 found the state now has over 110,000 workers across clean energy technologies. Additionally, four out of five of these workers are employed by small businesses. The report also finds employers can’t hire people fast enough, with about 80% of clean energy employers surveyed saying they had difficulty hiring qualified candidates.

This was echoed by the panelists at all three of the listening sessions — with one business owner noting that they must use temp workers to fill the gap — particularly for solar installers.

Even if North Carolina implemented clean energy polices across the board, the state does not currently have the workforce in place to meet the current or future demand for these sectors.

With the topic of workforce demand, education became one of the biggest themes among the business community in attendance — from a need to rebrand and expand the public’s definition of what clean jobs can be to better informing guidance counselors in High Schools and utilizing the community college system in each city to offer re-training programs, clean energy training tracks, or electric vehicle training programs.

E2 business listening session in Raleigh, NC

Leaders also noted that the states back-and-forth on committing to clean energy policies creates uncertainty for the market.

Our panelists included voices from the outdoor recreation industry, ecotourism, and hemp. These sectors also benefit from the state addressing climate change and can play a key role in ensuring the growth of the clean energy and electric vehicle sectors.

Later this week, the first recommendations for the governor’s Climate Action Plan are set to be released. E2 will continue to work with business leaders across the state to ensure their voices are heard as agencies work to finalize a plan.

— Veronica Butcher, E2 North Carolina Representative

NC Biz Leaders: Meeting Workforce Demands Key to Unlocking Clean Economy was originally published in e2org on Medium.