One of Southern Idaho’s best-kept secrets is that students who study renewable energy technology systems are almost guaranteed a high-paying job once they graduate.
I was part of those who arrived at the Idaho Capitol in late January for Idaho Energy Freedom’s annual Education Day to make sure our legislators understand the demand for trained workers who understand renewable energy production and can serve this growing industry in our state.
For the past eight years, I have been teaching at the College of Southern Idaho in the Renewable Energy Systems Technology Program, designed to help fill the Gem State’s need for workers specifically trained in industrial safety for the production of electricity, including mechanical drives, electric motors, hydraulics, programmable logic controllers for the maintenance and troubleshooting of industrial systems. All graduates of our program are qualified to install, maintain, and troubleshoot solar and wind energy systems, and we even take them up on wind turbines during some of our classes.
I brought three students along with me to the capitol, where they met potential employers and shared about their educational experiences and aspirations with the dozen lawmakers who stopped by.
Hands-on experience in renewable energy could not come at a better time for Idaho, as our clean energy economy continues to power the state forward.
Some of the recent success stories for our program include a current student who is working in the biodigester field and another student that is working in the wind industry in California.
The renewable energy workforce will need to double its current workforce to nearly one million by 2030. It’s a perfect time for a career pivot for folks like Christensen or recent high school graduates to train for in-demand jobs that offer opportunities for advancement, solid wages and benefits, along with opportunities to travel, particularly with Gov. Little’s new LAUNCH program coming online.
Idaho will benefit from the growth of renewable energy developments because they provide critical revenue for projects like repairing roads, funding our K-12 schools, and even emergency services.
I hope those of us advocating for Idaho’s clean energy community will continue to build on the relationships forged at the Capitol and chart a brighter future for renewable power in the Gem State.
Eli Bowles is an associate professor in the Renewable Energy and Industrial Systems Technology Trade and Industrial Education program at the College of Southern Idaho.