More oil and gas workers make the jump to clean energy

Stefanie Auld first noticed the trend just before COVID-19 hit in early 2020.

That February, Auld, who helps oversee hiring for the Los Angeles-based green energy company Avantus, was at a conference in Austin, Texas for women who worked in renewable energy. She’d volunteered to conduct mock interviews and resume coaching, assuming she’d largely be helping others in clean energy who wanted to change positions or companies. Instead, she said, almost every woman who approached her was working in conventional energy but seeking advice on pivoting to a job in the renewables sector.

It’s a trend that’s only expected to increase.

With new local, state, federal and international mandates aimed at reducing carbon emissions, latest Department of Energy records show fossil fuel sectors continued to post job losses even as the pandemic eased. Petroleum lost 31,593 jobs from 2020 to 2021, for a 6.4% drop, while coal jobs dropped by 11.8%.

At the same time, the energy sector overall grew faster than the national workforce. And all renewable energy divisions added jobs that year, with careers in geothermal, hydro, wind and solar power all up between 2.8% to 5.4%.

Josh Harding, left, Nathan Lee and Kathy Gleeson all have pivoted in recent years from careers in oil and gas to careers in renewable energy. (Harding photo courtesy of him; Lee photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG; Gleeson photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

When the next national energy jobs report comes out this summer, experts expect to see even bigger jumps in renewable sectors for 2022. That’s thanks largely to Congress last summer passing the Inflation Reduction Act, which dedicated $369 billion to fighting climate change.

In the first six months after the bill passed, clean energy companies announced 101,036 new jobs in 31 states, according to a February analysis by the nonprofit group Climate Power. And over the next decade, public and private investments stemming from the funding package are expected to create roughly 912,000 jobs per year, or some 9 million by 2030, according to a study out of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Not all of that funding …


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