Job-seekers can get in on the transition to renewable energy this week through a free workshop on green jobs at the St. Albert library.
Kaylyn Jackson of Relay Education (a charity which provides renewable energy education) will host the first of two free workshops on green-collar careers Jan. 19 at the St. Albert Public Library. The workshop aims to help people get into the clean energy industry.
Jackson said her workshop will discuss the future of work in Canada and how people can match skills and interests with 40 different jobs in green energy. The Jan. 19 session is aimed at adults. A second session on Feb. 13 will be for teens.
Some 430,500 people were employed in Canada’s clean energy sector in 2020, Clean Energy Canada reports. That is projected to jump almost 50 per cent by 2030 because of federal efforts to address global heating, with Alberta having some 71,700 clean-energy jobs by then — 164 per cent more than it does now.
This is part of a worldwide shift in employment driven by government efforts to rein in climate change, the International Energy Agency reported last November. The agency projects demand for all fossil fuels will peak by the mid-2030s, resulting in seven million fewer fossil-fuel jobs, but 40 million more in clean energy.
This shift is evident in the hundreds of orphaned wells now littering Alberta, said Luisa Da Silva of Iron and Earth, a non-profit that aims to help fossil fuel and Indigenous workers get into clean energy jobs.
“As an industry is experiencing a downward trend, we must ensure people who have worked in that industry don’t themselves become stranded assets,” she said.
If blue-collar jobs are manual labour and white-collar ones are administrative, green-collar jobs are any jobs that help both people and the planet, Jackson said. A green-collar worker might plant trees or put up solar panels, but they could also design efficient homes, make clothes from recycled fabrics, or guide green investment.
“It gives you an opportunity to not only help yourself but also help the planet,” Jackson said.
Green energy jobs have comparable pay to fossil fuel, with the added benefit of not having to live in work camps for months at a time, Da Silva said.
Jackson said green energy jobs also offer stability, as there is a huge demand for them. Many Alberta wind and solar companies reportedly struggle to find qualified staff.
Fossil-fuel workers often have many of the skills needed for green jobs and can slide into them with a bit of training, said Jackson and Da Silva. Electricians can put up solar panels, for example, while welders can make wind turbines and hydrogen plants. If you’ve worked with steam-assisted gravity drainage in the oilsands, you’re well-positioned to work in geothermal power.
Da Silva said it is important for governments to help workers who want or are forced to leave the fossil fuel sector find new careers in green energy. Iron and Earth has a career portal to help workers identify transferable skills, and organizes training opportunities for workers who want to shift over to green energy jobs. One recent opportunity saw fossil fuel workers learn to convert abandoned oil wells into solar power sites.
“This is really what a just transition is about: ensuring nobody is left behind,” Da Silva said.
The Jan. 19 workshop starts at 7 p.m. Visit sapl.libcal.com/event/3686196 to register.