Working in America’s coal industry has always had a promising career trajectory. You don’t need an expensive college degree but you could still bring home a nice six-figure salary.
Unfortunately, as coal is being usurped by other, cleaner forms of energy, the hey-day of the miner seems to be on its way to extinction. With the USA’s dependence on coal reducing, miners are out of work, mines are being shut down and economic stagnation looks like an inevitable result.
So, where do these miners go now that coal is on the decline? It looks like the way forward is to retrain in another area of energy. And, that’s exactly what a certain American subsidiary of a Chinese wind turbine company is doing. The company is offering a training program to former miners to retrain them as technicians.
Other retraining courses in areas such as computer coding and beekeeping are helping American miners make the transition from coal worker to renewable energy expert.
After receiving their work termination notice, a number of miners attended a seminar in a local lecture room, explaining the importance of new energy sources. They were told that training would cost nothing but their time and that upon completion a whole host of doors would be opened to them. The certification they would receive would allow them to operate and maintain wind turbines on a wind farm.
Despite the plummet in jobs the coal industry has seen, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that wind-energy technician will be the fast growing job over the next few years. This is fantastic news for workers who feared they would have to resort to unfulfilling jobs just to make ends meet.
But, wind energy isn’t the only sector that these workers are turning to for opportunities. The solar industry is also booming as it employs thousands of new workers for safety, installation and operations roles.
Yet, this move from coal to renewable energy sources isn’t without some challenges for the workers who are being retrained. The salaries allegedly pale in comparison with what was once paid out for working on an oil rig. However, in an ever-changing economy, the most important thing is to be able to adapt and improvise.
What’s more, the wind and solar sectors look set to be stable in the future, which will provide the former miners with greater job security than they previously had. They don’t need to be constantly anticipating their next lay-off and they will be able to return home to their families in the evenings. Not everyone will see this as being worth the pay cut but it is certainly a silver lining for miners who have lost their livelihood.