Jan 11 (Reuters) – U.S. clean energy companies are offering better wages and benefits, flying in trainers from overseas, and contemplating ideas like buying roofing and electric repair shops just to hire their workers as firms try to overcome a labor shortage that threatens to derail President Joe Biden’s climate change agenda.
The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law last year, provides for an estimated $370 billion in solar, wind and electric vehicle subsidies, according to the White House. Starting Jan. 1, American consumers can take advantage of those tax credits to upgrade home heating systems or put solar panels on their roofs. Those investments will create nearly 537,000 jobs a year for a decade, according to an analysis by BW Research commissioned by The Nature Conservancy.
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But with the U.S. unemployment rate at an historic low of 3.5%, companies say they fear they will struggle to fill those jobs, and that plans to transition away from fossil fuels could stall out. Despite layoff announcements and signs of a slowdown elsewhere in the economy, the labor market for clean energy jobs remains tight.
“It feels like a big risk for this expansion. Where are we going to find all the people?” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association trade group.
The shortage is anticipated to hit especially hard in electric vehicle and battery production and solar panel and home efficiency installations, forcing some of the companies into bold new approaches to find workers.
Korea’s SK Innovation Co Ltd, which makes batteries for Ford Motor Co’s (F.N) F-150 Lightning all-electric pickup truck in Commerce, Georgia, has pumped up pay and benefits as it ramps up its U.S. workforce to 20,000 people by 2025 from 4,000 today.
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