As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to invest in skills for American workers, the Energy Department officially launched today its National Training and Education Resource (NTER), an open-source platform that brings together information technologies to support education, training and workforce development. The program facilitates training programs across a wide range of applications – from home energy audits to science, mathematics and engineering education to manufacturing industries. NTER is one of a number of significant steps the Department is taking to ensure U.S. workers have the training they need lead in the 21st century global economy.
Building off a beta version released last year, NTER provides public and private organizations free access to the federal resources available at www.nterlearning.org, offering an open-source, web-based interactive learning environment for developing customizable training programs and materials. This resource also allows partner organizations to develop and distribute training materials quickly and cost-effectively, reaching more individuals and saving money.
Over the past year, the Energy Department has worked with private software developers to enhance the platform’s 3D capabilities, providing highly interactive content such as visual walkthroughs or full performance-based assessments. NTER recently transitioned to the cloud, providing scalable and flexible architecture that supports innovative, efficient online engagement.
Developing a New Generation of Energy Workers
At its inception, NTER provided training and workforce development support around housing energy efficiency, offering a host of interactive lessons for today’s energy audit and weatherization experts. Since 2009, these efforts have helped the Obama Administration complete energy efficiency upgrades in more than 1 million homes nationwide.
As part of the Department’s commitment to provide Americans with the skills they need to compete in the global clean energy race, we are expanding training modules to include other clean energy sectors. For example, the Energy Department is working with the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) to develop a program for IREC’s Solar Instructor Training Network, which provides training for building code officials who issue permits for solar energy installations on homes and businesses.
In partnership with the Edison Electric Institute and the Center for Energy Workforce Development, the Energy Department helped launch the “Troops to Energy Jobs” program to help increase opportunities for veterans in the energy sector. This initiative will leverage the NTER platform to provide transitional career training to help veterans gain the skills they need to get jobs in the energy industry.
Supporting American Manufacturing and Industrial Workers
Through NTER, the Energy Department is also collaborating with private industry to develop training and certification programs for manufacturing and industrial workers across the country.
Labor organizations, such as the National Insulation Association and the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, are leveraging NTER to offer free, interactive modules to train workers on design, installation and maintenance of mechanical insulation. These tools can also help building architects and engineers, as well as facility owners, better understand mechanical insulation systems.
“The NTER platform has provided our International Union with an up-to-date technology to deliver educational and training materials that we once delivered via manuals and books. Today’s generation of apprentices welcome the use of this tool and technology as a teaching method, demonstrating the basics and fundamentals in the mechanical insulation industry.”
- Thomas Haun, National Training Director, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers
The Manufacturing Institute, an affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), is working with the Energy Department to use NTER as a cutting-edge vehicle to implement the NAM-endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System across the nation’s network of community colleges and high schools. The certification system provides students with opportunities to earn manufacturing credentials that are accepted across state lines, are valued by a range of employers and can improve participants’ earning power.
Providing Cost-Effective Curriculum for Students
The Energy Department is also committed to providing students at community colleges and universities around the country access to reliable, engaging, inexpensive learning tools. As part of this commitment, we’ve partnered with the Department of Labor (DOL) to support its Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program. Through this effort, DOL is working with community colleges and other higher education institutions to help American workers acquire the skills and credentials they need for high-wage, high-skill employment. One of these projects, led by the Illinois Green Economy Network and the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Ill., is leveraging the NTER platform and sharing interactive course materials within a consortium of over 30 community colleges.
Additionally, in Warren, Mich., Macomb Community College is using NTER to enhance several of its electric vehicle oriented courses as part of its comprehensive education programming in workforce training, professional certification and career preparation programs.