The Inland Empire Desert Region Center of Excellence (IE/D COE) team participated in the 2024 Energy & Infrastructure Sector Showcase at the Marriott Riverside Convention Center on March 20th, 2024. The event, hosted by the Inland Regional Energy Network (I-REN) and the Inland Empire/Desert Regional Consortium (IEDRC), brought together education, training, government, community, business, and industry professionals to talk about industry trends, policy developments, and the workforce needs of the IE’s Energy & Infrastructure sector.

The COE’s research and facilitated discussion on the “so-what” with industry, college, and local government leaders focused on:

  • Renewables on the Rise: Recent investments and legislation are driving the importance of renewables and energy-efficient construction in the region. Rapid employment growth in solar, wind, and hydroelectric subindustries underscored this shift.
  • Oil and Gas Employment Decreasing, but Still Employs the Most Workers of Any Energy Subsector: Opportunities to reskill workers impacted by the energy transition will be critical over the next 10 years.
  • Occupational segregation and opportunities for a more inclusive workforce: Despite the Inland Empire’s diverse population, higher paying occupations are more likely to be held by White and Asian workers. Lower paid occupations are more likely to be workers of Hispanic/Latino decent. Female workers were underrepresented in all occupations in the industry.
  • Skills Gap Focus: Construction and utilities require a blend of organizational/administrative/financial skills and technical skills like plumbing or power distribution. Educational institutions can tailor programs to address this gap.
  • Education Pathways: The University of California – Riverside (UCR), California State University – San Bernardino (CSUSB), and Summit College are leading producers of graduates in utilities and construction programs. Chaffey College offers the most relevant programs within the region.
  • Degrees vs. Certificates: While some utility positions require bachelor’s degrees, most emphasize apprenticeships or short-term certificates.