Around the country, mining, oil, and gas jobs are being phased out, and thousands of workers are finding a new home in the solar industry.
FORBES — Between early 2015 and the first quarter of this year, the United States eliminated nearly 118,000 oil and gas positions. In the mining sector, lower commodity prices and increasing production costs are contributing to the labor decline.
But as these jobs are lost, new opportunities are opening up in the solar industry. Today, close to 209,000 U.S. workers are employed in solar, and the number is predicted to rise to 420,000 workers by 2020.
Colorado-based nonprofit Solar Energy International (SEI) is part of a nationwide effort to retrain mining, oil, and gas workers. Solar Ready Colorado, an SEI initiative that’s being funded by a $401,000 matching grant from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, aims to fill skills gaps among workers in traditional energy fields
Some 45,000 workers have completed programs at the nonprofit training school. To give its students and alumni the best chance of landing a job, SEI recruits employers to sign on as supporting companies. According to Turek, this shared vision is expected to lead to a well-trained clean energy workforce, ensuring quality solar installations and industry growth.
“Solar is up and coming, and it is the future,” said Noel Wichmann, a U.S. Air Force veteran and former mine employee who launched his own company after completing training through SEI.
The transition to solar is helping both the economy and the environment. Renewable energy has the potential to help stabilize energy prices, and as carbon emissions diminish, public health and the environment will reap the benefits.
As technologies to harvest and store the sun’s energy advance rapidly and adoption costs plummet, these conditions will continue to drive job growth in the energy sector — and specifically in renewable energy.
Thank you to Mark Stone and our friends at Forbes for providing the original article below.
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