REMADE Institute to Lead Circular Economy Workforce Training in Partnership with RIT, ReMA and RIC

July 1, 2024

Training will support businesses and workers in the nation’s rapidly growing electronics scrap and remanufacturing industries

ROCHESTER, N.Y.  — The REMADE Institute is pleased to announce it has been awarded $380,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop Circular Economy workforce training for the nation’s rapidly growing electronics scrap and remanufacturing industries. REMADE℠ will lead the workforce project and partner on it with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), the Recycled Materials Association (ReMA), and the Remanufacturing Industries Council (RIC).

The goal of the project is to develop bilingual, English and Spanish, online workforce training for roles that do not require four-year degrees in the e-scrap and remanufacturing industries. Both of these industries have significant needs for employees who can fill these types of roles, which include shop-floor workers as well as repair, test and diagnostic technicians. The specific training developed as part of this project would teach not only entry-level shop-floor workers, but would also provide progressive training to allow workers to move up the ladder into repair, test and diagnostic technician jobs.

“Upskilling the nation’s workforce is critical for ensuring the nation’s successful transition to a Circular Economy,” said REMADE CEO Nabil Nasr. “Improved training in these industries will reduce the onboarding costs for entry-level employees and facilitate upskilling. It will also address significant barriers for these businesses as they seek to accelerate circularity in the consumer electronics industry.”

E-scrap companies identify products and components that are worth repairing and reselling and they need shop-floor workers who can support them with sorting, testing, diagnostics and more. Consumer electronic product remanufacturers have similar roles for shop floor workers and technicians. They need workers who can support them with disassembly, sorting, testing, diagnostics and more.

“Access to skilled operators and experienced technicians is a challenge all over in manufacturing, and is no less a problem for companies that process e-scrap or remanufacture electronics,” said Mike Thurston, technical director at RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability. “This program is designed to help bridge that labor gap.”

“ReMA is excited to partner on the creation of bilingual electronics recycling workforce training resources that will support the ongoing success of electronic recycling businesses throughout the U.S.,” said ReMA President Robin Wiener. “With the generation of end-of-life electronics projected to grow to 74 million tons by 2030, it is important that we proactively work to build the talent pool who will be necessary to reintroduce those materials back into the manufacturing supply chain.”

“RIC member companies are contending with the same labor shortages facing the rest of the manufacturing industry,” said RIC Chair Jeff Sutherland. “We are pleased to support this project to facilitate the onboarding of new remanufacturing employees.”

The funding for this award is provided by the DOE’s Advanced Materials & Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO), and is one of five awards that were recently announced to accelerate the development, deployment, and scale-up of education and workforce programs that support the labor needs of American manufacturing. This funding will be used to expand such programs to broader communities across the country and meet the future labor needs of industries that are projected to expand rapidly in the immediate future as part of the nation’s shift to a clean energy economy.

“Investing in the success of our nation’s workforce is critical to a globally competitive domestic manufacturing sector and the future of our clean energy economy,” said AMMTO Director Chris Saldaña. “The U.S. Department of Energy is proud to support projects that provide workers with new and exciting opportunities to enter the rapidly growing electronic scrap and remanufacturing industries and support the upscaling of workers across the clean energy sector.”