Australia embarks on retraining coal workers to clean energy roles

The Australian government is reportedly retraining its millions of fossil fuel workers towards new roles in clean energy, such as solar and wind, as its energy industry faces threats from the cheaper and cleaner source.

With the transition toward clean energy picking up speed, Australia, a global champion of coal and gas, now has to take up one of the biggest challenges in the energy industry. Many lawmakers, who were once defending fossil fuels, are now making promises regarding green jobs as they campaign for the upcoming national elections in May.

With clean energy, over 38 million jobs can be created globally by the end of this decade. To meet that demand without having a labor shortage, efforts to lure new entrants need to be ramped up and a clearer plan for retaining the veteran workforce amidst declining traditional fuel sources needs to be devised.

Renewable energy has accounted for almost one-third of Australia’s electricity generation last year, with utilities bringing forth plans of retiring coal power stations sooner than planned.

Chris Briggs, Research Director, University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, stated that by 2036, around 10,000 jobs in coal mines and power plants associated with domestic electricity will be lost in Australia.

However, at the same time, around 20,000-25,000 new jobs will emerge in construction as well as in the operation and maintenance of renewable power, he added.

There is a catch, however, in the renewable sector. Many roles in the wind and solar power are offering only a fraction of the salary that was offered in minerals, which also included perks such as subsidized housing and utilizes, six weeks of paid leave, free vacation and flight tickets, along with hefty bonuses.

Along with that, most new jobs in renewable are temporary, while coal mining and power have provided generations of Australians with work. But with the energy transition being carried out on a large scale, construction of new wind and solar farms will continue for years, which signifies a growing number of available positions.

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By Shreya Bhute

With corporate exposure in software and marketing, Shreya was always intrigued by content development. Having pursued her graduation in I.T. engineering, she works as a content writer for and jots down news articles across distinct domains including technology, business and healthcare.