TORONTO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — After nearly a decade of riding Canada’s oil boom, drilling contractor Jennifer Turner found herself low on work, like thousands of other employees in the fossil fuel business left jobless following a plunge in oil prices.
Today, she helps unemployed oil workers find jobs in the burgeoning solar power industry. She hopes it’s part of a broader transition to adopt more renewable energy in the North American nation with the world’s third-largest oil reserves.
“Workers risk getting left behind,” said Turner, a spokeswoman for the advocacy group Iron and Earth, based in Alberta.
In fact, many require “minimal training” to repurpose their expertise for renewable energy projects, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Skills like welding, machinery repair and project management can be transferred from the oil industry to solar power installation or other renewable enterprises if workers get the right support, said Turner who still occasionally contracts for oil companies.
From the sands of Saudi Arabia, to the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota and Angola’s coastal waters, low oil prices, concerns over climate change and the falling cost of clean power are leading investors and governments to reconsider energy policies.
“Workers risk getting left behind.”Jennifer Turner, energy worker
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