No one sector—government, industry, or education—can provide the needed energy and mining workforce on its own. University research can also contribute to workforce development by enhancing the education pipeline.
Finding 3: Ensuring that the United States has the educated and skilled workforce necessary for the success of the energy and mining industries requires a strong partnership among business, education at all levels, and the government.
Finding 4: Technical research leads not only to innovation—the lifeblood of industry’s business success—but also to better education and educators.
Recommendation 2: To address common goals and to provide a mechanism for industry’s engagement with the education process and the graduates it produces, federal agencies (e.g., the National Science Foundation, DOE, Department of Defense, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and National Institutes of Health) should consider providing increased research funding to universities, with matching funding from industry and specific requirements to incorporate two outcomes from the research: (1) advancing technology or business processes to drive innovation and enrich graduate and undergraduate education; and (2) developing university faculty who work on the cutting edge of research to enhance the quality of higher education. The engagement of both faculty and graduate students in this research will extend the pool of STEM-qualified faculty for all educational levels. (Short Term)
Energy and Mining Information for the Public
Importantly, building the best educational pathways in the world and the most qualified STEM faculty for our educational institutions does not mean that more students will pursue energy and mining programs of study. “Build it and they may not come.” The public perception of the mature extractive industries in the United States is often that they are environmentally damaging and their jobs are undesirable (due to concerns over pollution, noise, environmental degradation, and health issues, for example). This negative image dissuades some from pursuing careers in these industries. Also, although renewable energy is generally seen as positive, some negative perceptions (questionable technology viability, long-term existence, and cost-effectiveness, for example) exist that might dissuade people from joining those workforces. Information about all of these industries can educate the public about their importance to the nation and the career opportunities they offer. The government has a natural role to play in providing and disseminating such information as a complement to nongovernment sources. Information about these industries may also motivate students to pursue STEM