“Play to your strengths” is a common expression and could be an energy business slogan for Labor Day 2021. The transition in the industry – from fossil to renewable energy, from analog to digital, from all centralized to more, smaller power sources – means there are opportunities for workers.

If… and a big if … workers and companies team up to retrain and improve employee skills.

Midlands Tech in South Carolina – a source for energy training

Workforce retraining is a well-known need in many industries. Nearly half of workers (46%) said they will have to learn new skills within the next year to do their current job, and 43% expect their financial security to be in peril if they do not retrain.

About seven-in-ten workers (72%) say “a lot” of responsibility falls on individuals to make sure that they have the right skills and education to be successful.

So, play to your strengths for success.

First, skills in one technology could be transferrable to new energy technologies. Think of common needs in fabrication, test and measurement, maintenance, safety, and project management. Or consider that oil workers’ offshore skills can help build offshore wind installations.

Second, knowing the energy industry’s culture is a head start for workers. Here’s a recent real-world example of using energy workers for new energy success: A wind turbine maker is retraining Wyoming coal miners to be wind service technicians, a job category expected to log massive growth.

Third, geography helps. Some regions with heavy fossil exposure also have good renewable energy possibilities. West Texas has oilfields also has terrific prospects for wind and solar.

Fourth, the trend is your friend. Transitions to new energy technologies are happening fast. That creates a sense of urgency for workers in jobs that will go away. Ride that wave.

NC’s Cape Fear Community College – another source

My sense is that the trend of workers being responsible for their own future will increase. To change, take action. White papers about the workforce recommend federal or state policy for retraining. Relying on the government is not a winner, just my thinking. Even matching government and corporate actions is not significant – only 21% of businesses say they can make use of public funds to support reskilling and upskilling.

It is up to the individual to create his or her own success. Some ideas:

  • If you know people who are reskilling now, or someone in a job you’d like, talk with them. Do informational interviews to learn how to make a transition.
  • Talk with your employer and learn what possibilities there are to make a change. Shifts are happening. Nearly half of the people in companies with 2,001 to 10,000 employees said they are likely to upskill in their work. That’s a high number.
  • Make yourself and your good attitude visible in the workplace. Maybe volunteer for committees to meet new people. Make sure higher-ups know you are there.
  • Check reputable educational organizations, like technical and community colleges. Ask how they ensure their courses are pragmatic. Ask about placement rates for graduates. For instance, North Carolina’s Cape Fear Community College has a curriculum in sustainable technologies. South Carolina’s Midlands Tech has a renewable energy technician certificate.
  • Assess yourself. Examine your own hard and soft skills. Match those to what you might need in a new position. Match those skills to a job description of the job you want. That can show you the strengths you have now and where you need to fill gaps.

Unfortunately, there is no one exemplary source about how to make job transitions. However, one good rule to know is that you must guide the process yourself.

Bottom line: Do your own research. Own your future. Play to your strengths; create new strengths.


Feature image: Lineworkers in North Carolina hardening the grid with new metal poles.