In the U.S., wind turbine service technicians are one of the fastest growing jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [1] and employment is projected to grow 45% from 2022 to 2032 [2] . Opportunities also exist in Canada, where the Canadian Wind Turbine industry has been growing and the industry is on the lookout for new talent. Canada is ranked 8th in the world for installed wind capacity (2022), already has 337 wind energy projects producing power [3] and added 1.7GW of new wind energy in 2023.

Industry growth is prompting government, training and education related firms to continue to build Canada’s talent base. It’s an employment category that many job-seekers might not have known about.

Combining Training & Education Talents to Build Tomorrow’s Talent

Work Based Learning Consortium (WBLC), which offers work-based learning and hiring programs, and Relay Education, which delivers renewable energy and environmental education programs, have joined forces to train and attract workers to this industry.

In early 2024, 60 Relay Education trainees (40 in Calgary and another 20 in Toronto) completed a combined program of WBLC’s Wind Turbine Blade Repair e-Learning and Relay Education’s safety training.

“The goal of this program with Relay Education is to take people from no knowledge to enough knowledge to make a decision about a job in the industry and also give them a leg up on getting employed,” says Paul Coleman, eLearning Instructor and Content Developer, part of the WBLC Virtual Learning Team. “We’re giving the employer an opportunity to interview people that have been really well vetted. They’ve learned some key information that they wouldn’t otherwise have picked up if they walked in off the street.”

“The program provides a really good view into the industry and shows they can get into good repetition career in the wind turbine industry,” adds Coleman.

An Employer Tries the Training Himself

“It was a phenomenal program” – Maad Baobaid, President, Tomorrow’s Solutions Inc.

Maad Baobaid, President of Calgary-based Tomorrow’s Solutions Inc., a company that provides highly skilled technicians for the renewable energy sector, wanted to assess the WBLC/Relay Education program to understand the breadth of training being offered. Tomorrow’s Solutions does construction work in the renewable energy sector and sees increasing operations & maintenance (O&M) opportunities.

“I connected with WBLC and Relay Education at a conference last year,” says Baobaid, who was impressed with the combined Wind Turbine Blade Repair e-Learning and Relay Education’s safety training. “I have a lot of renewable experience but wanted to expand my blade repair knowledge and also wanted to see the reaction of people going through the training program.”

“It was a phenomenal program,” says Baobaid of the combined training. “It went into details and incorporated a lot of great material. One of the key things is the safety aspect. Safety has to be implemented inside everybody’s head from the very start, especially with newer people into the industry.”

A Different Kind of Repair Technician

Baobaid says that people often don’t appreciate the scale of the wind turbines.

“Obviously, some people don’t really know what a blade looks like. It takes you off guard,” adds Baobaid. “It’s one thing repairing blades on the ground and it is, obviously, a completely different ball game in the air. Sometimes, you have to be hanging off the blades to do the major repairs on the turbines.”

Comprehensive and Eye-opening Learning

Tisa Wright Marshall who also recently completed the Wind Turbine Blade Repair program found the combined WBLC/Relay Education program very helpful.

“It was very eye opening. It was very interesting learning about fiberglass, balsa wood, adhesives, and PPE (personal protective equipment),” says Marshall. “I also liked learning the project aspect, seeing everything from the beginning — defining what a project is, learning when a technician would be dispatched, and so on. I come from an administration background, so those kinds of things were exciting.”

Marshall was surprised at the amount of detail and level of information that was learned in the program – “It was a little surprising, in a good way.”

“It was a great experience. The combined training was beautifully meshed together – both the e-Learning training and learning the high rescue training aspects,” adds Marshall.

Combining Forces to Deliver Required Training

Based on the feedback related to the wind turbine blade repair program, virtually all program participants have indirectly commented on the combined strength of the two organizations — a winning combination.

“It’s been exciting to have such positive feedback to this newly developed pilot program, while also giving people considering employment in the Wind Turbine Repair space some important skills and knowledge that will make them even more competitive as they seek jobs in this rapidly growing industry,” says Rick Stomphorst, Employer Relations Manager at WBLC.