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How a Long-Running Energy Coalition Proves Industry-Education Partnerships Are Key to the Future of Workforce Development

The Energy Providers Coalition for Education (EPCE), a CAEL signature initiative, is one of the most enduring industry-education partnerships in existence. Since its inception two decades ago, more than 46,000 learners have enrolled in its industry-informed and -vetted online courses. Today, this coalition is as vibrant as ever and continues to innovate in both program development and delivery, providing educational pathways to good jobs at scale nationwide.  

A new case study on EPCE offers some insight as to why the partnership works so well. Among the factors that contribute to its strength: flexibility, reach, responsiveness, efficiency, and learner support. But without doubt, the factors most integral to EPCE’s success lie at the core of this coalition — its strong collaborative spirit and model. This commitment to collective problem-solving ensures that EPCE, which represents approximately 75% of the nation’s energy workforce (individuals employed by an EPCE company or organization), is able to meet the continued need for talent development in the evolving energy sector by drawing on the strengths of its member base.  

The case study highlights the stackable programs offered by the four education partners: Bismarck State College, Excelsior University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Clemson University. These range from short courses to master’s degrees and most are developed in close collaboration with industry partners through EPCE’s curriculum committees. CAEL, in turn, provides expertise as partnership administrator and also offers value-added consultation services. The case study also showcases past program customizations and success stories. Finally, it reveals the coalition’s vision for a future that is seen as increasingly focused on the need to develop multiskilled technicians who can move from one energy sector to another, who can adapt to the changing needs of the industry (e.g., renewable energy), and from energy to other fields such as telecommunications and manufacturing. 

A model for education-industry partnerships, EPCE continues to grow and thrive. This case study provides insight into a collaboration opportunity that can be replicated by other sectors facing similar workforce challenges in the future. Learn more about EPCE here.  

Munip is senior research director at CAEL.

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