The DOE’s Aluminum Industry Jobs Partnership will identify opportunities to expand plant capacity and improve workforce development systems to help bring qualified candidates to the industry. Today, the $65 billion aluminium industry directly employs around 155,000 workers in the United States.

The Aluminum Industry Jobs Partnership will be composed of participants from the Aluminum Association and its member companies as well as the DOE Jobs Strategy Council (JSC) and Office of the Secretary. The JSC is a cross-cutting initiative that integrates the research, technology, and economic resources of the Department to respond to the workforce and economic development needs of the energy industry and state and local governments. The Partnership will collaborate to explore technologies to advance the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing.

The announcement was made by David Foster, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Energy, during the final day of the Aluminum Association’s Spring Meeting – “Ride the Aluminum Wave” - in Dana Point, CA during a presentation to Aluminum Association membership. Foster detailed that the Partnership will initially meet on a quarterly basis to review the condition of the industry, identify projects of joint interest and implement activities of mutual benefit.

“Creating more aluminium industry jobs in the United States contributes to the economy and the environment,” said David Foster of the Department of Energy. “Aluminium is unique as a material in that it’s highly recyclable, extremely durable and it can contribute directly to energy efficiency through lightweighting in the transportation, building and other environments.”

Aluminium products can lower energy use in dozens of applications. Builders can gain points for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by using aluminium in construction projects. Highly recycled and lightweight aluminium packaging reduces shipping costs, material use and carbon emissions for beverage makers. And a study by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that aluminium has a 20% smaller life cycle energy use compared to a typical vehicle on the road today.

“This is a terrific example of the public and private sectors working together to strengthen US manufacturing -- ensuring that we have a modern workforce that tracks with growth for the sustainable modern metal,” said Heidi Brock, President and CEO of the Aluminum Association. “We’re looking forward to collaborating with the DOE on this effort to grow the aluminium industry, its jobs and skills, while also improving our performance.”

The Partnership will have four initial goals:
1. Expand the number of aluminium industry jobs in the United States;
2. Improve industry workforce development systems by identifying and addressing skills shortages and developing training programmes;
3. Explore cross-cutting technologies to enhance U.S. manufacturing;
4. Identify opportunities for more energy efficient manufacturing throughout the industry.
The U.S. aluminium industry continues to improve its environmental performance in a variety of areas. A peer-reviewed life cycle assessment study released last year found that the energy used to produce new (primary) aluminium is down more than a quarter since 1995. At the same time, recovery and recycling across the industry is on the rise. Today, around 70% of U.S. aluminium production is in secondary, or recycled, metal. Recycled aluminium requires 92% less energy to make than new aluminium, which has a major impact on the industry’s overall environmental footprint.