Workforce and Education
In order to develop smart grid technologies companies must have access to an incredibly bright workforce. It’s this reality—more than any other—that has thrust Wake County and the Research Triangle Region to the forefront of this industry. More than 3,000 people in the Triangle are directly employed in smart grid activities, and there are tens of thousands of other engineers, software developers and IT professionals all working in technology-driven industries.
Area colleges and universities are well positioned to meet the future workforce needs of smart grid companies through a combination of retraining and new curriculum programs.
A perfect example is NC State University’s new Master of Electric Power Systems Engineering degree. This intensive professional program, which benefits from significant industry collaboration, covers core power engineering topics, smart grid applications and cross-disciplinary courses including risk management, technical writing and engineering economics.
At Wake Technical Community College, students will find curriculum programs in Electronics Engineering Technology, and companies and incumbent workers will find certificate and customized training programs capable of advancing knowledge in the manufacturing of smart grid components.
A recent study by the Brookings Institute named Raleigh as the #2 fastest growing region for green jobs. A major driver of that growth revolves around the smart grid.
Growing industry clusters act like a snowball. The more mass they have, the faster they roll, and the more additional mass they gain. In the smart grid world, Wake County is one of the biggest snowballs around. And just as important, the overall business climate and positive reputation of the Research Triangle Region means our snowball is rolling down a really steep hill! That exciting metaphor was simply used to say this: Wake County already has a large number of talented people working in the smart grid sector, at least 3,000 directly employed right now, and that will grow as the sector continues to expand.