The transition to clean energy isn’t always easy for workers in fossil fuel industries. As coal miners find themselves out of work, one wind turbine manufacturer aims to give them jobs in clean industries through a free jobs training program. Goldwind Americas, the United States branch of a major Chinese company, wants to offer out-of-work coal miners in Wyoming new roles as wind technicians instead.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says wind turbine service technicians is the fastest growing occupation in America, with a median pay of $52,260 a year in 2016, and some of those jobs could be a perfect fit for skilled laborers who no longer have employment in the fossil fuel industry. Goldwind’s Wyoming job training initiative, Goldwind Works, could produce workers for a huge wind farm they’re building in the state, where they have an agreement to supply up to 850 turbines. After construction they’ll require up to 200 workers to maintain the wind farm.
Goldwind Works is slated to start next month. It will include informational meetings and a tower climb and safety training at a Montana wind farm.
Goldwind Americas CEO David Halligan told The New York Times coal miners likely already possess some relevant mechanical and electrical skills, and are used to laboring in hard conditions. He said, “If we can tap into that market and also help out folks that might be experiencing some challenges in the work force today, I think that it can be a win-win situation.”
Wyoming produces more coal than any other state in America. They produce almost four times as much of the black rock as West Virginia. Even so hundreds of coal miners lost their jobs in the state last year. Meanwhile the wind industry could offer new opportunities to those out-of-work miners.