March 22, 2013 in Business

Energy, mining worker shortage

Vicki Smith Associated Press
 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The United States isn’t producing enough qualified workers to meet the future needs of the mining and energy sectors, from coal digging and gas drilling to solar and wind power, a new report says.

The report released Thursday by the National Research Council urges new partnerships to tackle the problem of retiring baby boomers who cannot readily be replaced. That includes a retooling of higher education to produce more young people competent in science, technology, engineering and math.

The report predicts a “bright present and future” for energy and mining jobs, with continuing demand for workers and good pay for those who are hired. But it says some industries already face labor shortages and others soon will because the nation’s colleges and universities aren’t cranking out graduates with the skills that growing companies need.

Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration data, for example, show 46 percent of the workforce will be eligible to retire within five years, but there are too few younger workers in the pipeline to replace them.

The oil and gas industry, meanwhile, has a workforce that’s currently concentrated at both the older and younger ends of the spectrum, the report says, “creating a gap in experience and maturity” in between and making it difficult to replace retiring leadership.

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