Wind Industry Short of Workers

John Davis

If you’re looking for a career change or you’re just joining the workforce, you might consider a job in the wind industry.

This story in the Seattle Times says while the industry has taken off like a shot, installing 3,200 turbines last year alone… and that number expected to be repeated this year, the number of workers has not kept pace:

[W]ind-power officials see a much larger obstacle coming in the form of its own work force, a highly specialized group of technicians that combines working knowledge of mechanics, hydraulics, computers and meteorology with the willingness to climb 200 feet in the air in all kinds of weather.

That work force isn’t keeping up with the future demand, partly because the industry is so new that the oldest independent training programs are less than five years old.

awea.jpgThe American Wind Energy Association, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group, estimates the industry employs about 20,000 people, not including those making turbines or other equipment.

Future need is harder to quantify, given the uncertainties of the industry’s growth. But with two-man teams generally responsible for seven to 10 turbines, the industry would need up to 800 technicians to serve the turbines expected to be installed this year alone.

Park developers, turbine manufacturers and utilities are investing in training programs, attempting to lure workers with wages of up to $25 an hour, or teaming up with the growing number of wind-energy training programs offered at community and technical colleges.

The article goes on to say that some wind energy companies are so in need of skilled workers, they are snatching up those in the technical programs at colleges before they even finish their training.

So if you’re career future is still up in the air, you might consider the industry that is gaining a whirlwind of support: wind power.