The Savannah River Site is still known to be the largest employer in the CSRA—and now, thanks to a partnership with the Biden-Harris Administration and Augusta Technical College President, Dr. Jermaine Whirl—and others– it’s likely to grow even more.
ABD’s learned Dr. Whirl is one of just 14 members selected for the first-ever 21st Century Energy Workforce Advisory Board.
Late yesterday, Dr. Whirl shared his insight with Augusta Business Daily.
ABD: How did the appointment come about Dr. Whirl?
Dr. Whirl: In January of this year (2023), I was reached out to by a director at the U.S. Department of Energy who was putting together a list of individuals to recommend to the Secretary of Energy for participation in the 21st Century Energy Workforce Advisory Board. They specifically wanted a representative from a technical college that was providing training for the advanced manufacturing industry and asked if I would be interested in serving, if offered a formal invitation. I said absolutely!
ABD: What do you see your role on this Board?
Dr. Whirl: My role is to provide guidance and advice to the secretary on how two-year colleges can play a role in training our nation’s next generation of workers for energy-related jobs of today and into the future. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 are only transformative, if our nation has the workers needed to make us energy efficient by 2030 and beyond. Whether it’s electrical vehicle production, semiconductor production, battery manufacturing, biotechnology, etc.… a skilled workforce will be critical to move our nation forward.
ABD: How might this organically benefit Augusta Tech?
Dr. Whirl: Our institution, as well as our peers in the Technical College System of Georgia, are dedicated to closing the skills gaps in Georgia. I’m hopeful to learn best practices in the nation, while also learning about resources that may be available to help scale or bolster our efforts at home.
Other members of the panel came from the workforce development, labor, and energy sectors and will provide recommendations to the Secretary of Energy and also focus on the following areas:
- Meet the current and future industry and labor needs of the energy sector;
- Provide opportunities for students to become qualified for placement in traditional and emerging energy sector jobs;
- Identify areas in which the Department can effectively utilize its technical expertise to support the workforce activities of other Federal agencies;
- Strengthen and engage the workforce training programs of the Department and the National Laboratories in carrying out the Equity in Energy Initiative and other Department workforce priorities;
- Develop plans to support and retrain displaced and unemployed energy sector workers; and
- Prioritize education and job training for underrepresented groups.
Each board member will serve either a two-or three- year term to ensure the full membership body isn’t up for reappointment at the same time. Dr. Whirl will serve for three years.
The first meeting of the EWAB will be scheduled for this fall, with a notification posted on the Federal Register at least 15 days ahead of the meeting, including information on how the public can join.
For more information on the EWAB and DOE’s efforts to support America’s energy workforce, visit: /policy/21st-century-energy-workforce-advisory-board-ewab.