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Graphic by Sarah Harman

Graphic by Sarah Harman

Looking for a job? The energy sector is a great place to start. More than 6 million Americans now work in the traditional energy and energy efficiency industries, which added more than 300,000 new jobs in 2016. That’s 14% of the nation’s total job growth.

Energy literacy is more important now than ever before. Employers demand a skilled workforce that can keep pace with regular scientific breakthroughs and the expanding vocabulary. An energy literate person can not only solve daily household problems, but with further training, he or she can also join a growing energy workforce.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is a powerful catalyst for nationwide energy literacy. Fulfilling this mission means training both teachers and students.

Here’s three quick ways people can boost their energy literacy toolkit.

Energy Camps

DOE’s State Energy Program supports energy camps, webinars, trainings, and other educational programs in several states. One example is the Tennessee Energy Education Network (TEEN). Its mission is to engage K-12 students in Tennessee in studying the science of energy.

In June 2016, the Tennessee state energy office hosted two Energy Education Camps for K-12 educators. The camps, which drew a total of 100 educators, focused on ways to create real-world applications for energy knowledge, such as data collection that allows students and teachers to evaluate and improve their school’s energy usage. The camps also offered team building activities that featured energy bingo and the construction of solar ovens and model fuel cell cars.

Advancing STEM Curriculums

DOE also facilitates energy curriculum development for K-12 classrooms by supporting the Rhode Island state energy office’s partnership with the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED). This nonprofit provides energy education materials to schools and organizes workshops to train teachers on energy curriculums.

The NEED Project’s national network promotes energy education in more than 65,000 classrooms across the country. The curriculum is aligned to Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, and DOE’s Energy Literacy Principles. Through this instruction, students build small generators to see electricity generation up-close, and conduct energy audits of their homes and classrooms to find energy savings opportunities.

Gearing Up for the Grid

The power grid of the future will need to deliver secure, sustainable, and affordable power. DOE prepares college students for energy careers and provides training opportunities about next-generation grid concepts to utility engineers through the SunShot Initiative’s Grid Engineering for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment (GEARED) program. Since its inception in 2013, GEARED has trained thousands of undergraduate and graduate students. It also delivers 118 new and revised courses and creates job, internship, and research opportunities for students to prepare them to design and manage the nation’s changing power generation portfolio.

So if you want to be part of the growing energy workforce, it’s time to talk the talk before you can walk the walk.