US DOE to invest US$5M for up to five pilot training programs as part of a national workforce development strategy for lithium-battery manufacturing, in conjunction with DOL, AFL-CIO; move to help support the domestic battery supply chain, decarbonization

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WASHINGTON , March 18, 2022 (press release) –

Industry and Labor will Partner on Five Pilot Programs to Train Battery Manufacturing Workers and Bolster the Domestic Battery Supply Chain

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in coordination with the U.S. Department of Labor and the AFL-CIO, today announced the launch of a national workforce development strategy for lithium-battery manufacturing. As part of a $5 million investment, DOE will support up to five pilot training programs in energy and automotive communities and advance workforce partnerships between industry and labor for the domestic lithium battery supply chain. Lithium batteries power everything from electric vehicles to consumer electronics and are a critical component of President Biden’s whole-of-government decarbonization strategy. This workforce initiative will support the nation’s global competitiveness within battery manufacturing while strengthening the domestic economy and clean energy supply chains. 

“American leadership in the global battery supply chain will be based not only on our innovative edge, but also on our skilled workforce of engineers, designers, scientists, and production workers,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, “President Biden has a vision for achieving net zero emissions while creating millions of good paying, union jobs — and DOE’s battery partnerships with labor and industry are key to making that vision a reality.” 

“President Biden has made the creation of good union jobs a cornerstone of his climate strategy,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “We applaud DOE for being proactive in pulling labor and management together as the domestic battery industry is being established, and we look forward to working with DOE and DOL to develop high-road training standards for the entire battery supply chain.” 

“I am glad to see the Department of Energy collaborating with our industry partners to invest in the next generation of our clean energy workforce,” said U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “While I remain concerned about our dependence on China and other foreign countries for key parts of the lithium-ion battery supply chain, engaging our strong and capable workforce to manufacture batteries domestically is a critical step toward reducing our reliance on other countries and ensuring we are able to maintain our energy security. I look forward to seeing this initiative grow, and we will continue to work closely together to ensure we can onshore the rest of the battery supply chain.” 

The pilot training programs will bring together manufacturing companies, organized labor, and training providers to lay the foundation for the development of a broad national workforce strategy. The pilots will support industry-labor cooperation and will provide sites for job task analyses and documenting worker competencies. Insights gained will support the development of national industry-recognized credentials and inform the development of broader training programs to support the overall battery supply chain. 

This initiative comes as part of suite of announcements from President Biden’s Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization—a partnership among the White House and nearly a dozen federal agencies committed to pursuing near- and long-term actions to support coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities as the nation transitions to a clean energy economy. 

This announcement follows DOE’s recent release of two Notices of Intent authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to provide $3 billion to support projects that bolster domestic battery manufacturing and recycling. The funding, which will be made available in the coming months, will support battery-materials refining, which will bolster domestic refining capacity of minerals such as lithium, as well as production plants, battery cell and pack manufacturing facilities, and recycling facilities. 

It also builds on progress the Biden-Harris Administration and DOE have driven to secure a sustainable, reliable domestic supply of critical minerals and materials necessary for clean energy supply chains, including lithium. This includes $44 million in funding through the DOE Mining Innovations for Negative Emissions Resource Recovery (MINER) program to fund the technology research that increases the mineral yield while decreasing the required energy, and subsequent emissions, to mine and extract critical minerals such as lithium, copper, nickel, and cobalt. 

Recent reports underscore the need for America to develop and sustain a robust workforce for the domestic battery supply chain, including the President’s 100-Day Supply Chain Review and DOE’s recently released Supply Chain Review for the Energy Sector Industrial Base.  Last year, the Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries published the National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries 2021-2030, which calls for the United States and its partners to establish a secure battery materials and technology supply chain by 2030.

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