Battery Workforce Initiative gets national standards for apprenticeships in battery manufacturing

The National Guideline Standards (NGS) will guide the creation of training materials for companies and training providers.

As part of its Battery Workforce Initiative (BWI), the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) — in coordination with the U.S. Dept. of Labor (DOL) — has released National Guideline Standards (NGS) for registered apprenticeships for battery machine operators.

The DOL-certified guidelines were created in partnership with battery manufacturers, community colleges and unions, DOE said, and they define the training requirements to support a skilled workforce in the battery manufacturing industry.

The NGS will inform BWI training materials for companies and training providers. DOE said curricula is being developed to support the department’s broader efforts to deploy workforce education activities for battery manufacturing. These include BWI’s Pilot Training project and the Battery Workforce Challenge (BWC) Program Regional Workforce Training (RWT) Hubs project.

An overview of the skills categories required for battery machine operators from the Battery Workforce Initiative’s (BWI) National Guideline Standards (NGS). Graphic: KHL Staff. Background Image: Alamy. Data: National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Speaking at the NGS announcement in Lansing, Mich., on March 26, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said more than 400 EV and battery manufacturing facilities have been announced in the U.S. over the past three years, “underscoring the need for a strong and supported skilled workforce.”

U.S. Acting Secretary of Labor Julie A. Su said the NGS will expand pathways to good jobs via registered apprenticeships in battery manufacturing.

“In just under a year, the Battery Workforce Initiative has built a strong partnership between government, industry, technology and labor to make sure workers, including those who have historically been shut out of opportunities, can find their place in the middle class now and well into the future,” she said.

DOE said that facilitating upfront industry engagement and alignment on a complete package of training materials and guidelines speeds up DOL’s approval process for new battery training programs and provides the foundation for national credentials.

“After spending 48 years in the battery industry and having worked in the world’s largest lithium battery manufacturing operations, I know that training is the key to a successful battery industry,” said Bob Galyen, the Chief Technology Officer for NAATBatt and SAE International Fellow.

Since 2022, BWI has convened meetings and engaged with hundreds of stakeholders representing established and emerging manufacturers, academia, and labor groups. This important engagement has enabled meaningful exchange of perspectives on current and future workforce development needs with the goal of understanding the needs of both American workers and industry.

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Next on the BWI’s agenda is to look at other jobs in the battery supply chain. BWI has already started convening stakeholders working on battery-grade materials processing and recycling to map out the skills requirements for that work.

BWI’s strategic partnerships across agencies, including with the Department of Education, leverages historic investments in clean energy industries. As a critical pillar of President Biden’s whole-of-government decarbonization strategy, this collaborative effort is set to increase the nation’s global competitiveness as clean energy investments drive rapid development and manufacturing across the world.

The Battery Workforce Initiative was launched in March 2022 to “support the nation’s global competitiveness within battery manufacturing while strengthening the domestic economy and clean energy supply chains,” DOE said in its press release at the time.

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