New micro-credential supports skills training, shift to sustainable energy
Athabasca University responds to skills gap and need for innovative and diversified energy
As energy production in Alberta shifts from fossil fuels to more sustainable energy resources such as solar, hydrogen, geothermal, wind, hydroelectric, and nuclear, traditional fossil fuel industries are searching for more sustainable approaches.
To keep up with this change, more education and skills training is needed to help people working in the energy sector adapt. PowerED™ and the Faculty of Science and Technology by Athabasca University (AU) have launched a 4-course Innovative and Diversified Energy Resources micro-credential to help fill this skills gap.
Gray Alton, vice-president of project development at Terrapin Geothermics, said it’s important for energy companies to invest time and money into making the transition seamless for employees who have worked in legacy energy industries. Alton is a featured industry collaborator in the PowerED™ courses Earth Materials, Environment, and Energy Resources and Alternative Innovative Energy.
“This is going to require retraining of staff for the new skills required to meet these demands which will need to come from all forms of government, private industry, and post-secondary institutions,” he explained.
“This is going to require retraining of staff for the new skills required to meet these demands which will need to come from all forms of government, private industry, and post-secondary institutions.”– Gray Alton, vice-president of project development at Terrapin Geothermics
The future of energy
Shauna Zenteno, dean of AU’s Faculty of Science and Technology, said it’s important for Alberta and other jurisdictions to develop industries in addition to oil and gas given the need for low-carbon energy production to help mitigate the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change.
“As we look to ways to develop a more sustainable planet, we will need to explore alternative energy resources,” Zenteno said. “It is about how we choose to sustain the planet, and to do that, we need a balance.”
According to Canada’s Energy Regulator, the country has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030 and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As a result, industry giants are finding ways to adapt.
To help fill skills and knowledge gaps in the energy industry in Alberta, PowerED™ and the Faculty of Science and Technology received over $1 million in grant funding from the Government of Alberta to develop the new micro-credential.
“As we look to ways to develop a more sustainable planet, we will need to explore alternative energy resources.”– Shauna Zenteno, dean of AU’s Faculty of Science and Technology
Supporting Albertans with education
Zenteno explained that the province has identified innovative and diversified energy resources as an area where Albertans could advance their skills and learn more about new energy resources available.
“This micro-credential will give those who may have worked in the fossil fuel industry, or those interested in changing careers the proper background and ability to enhance their employability in the energy industry,” she said.
Understanding new forms of energy
Through consultation with the faculty and industry partners, this micro-credential will teach Albertans about reliable, accessible, and affordable new fuels and forms of energy to power highly sophisticated economies into the future.
Alton said the oil and gas industry is not going away, but the energy transition is a priority for companies and picking up pace worldwide.
“We need to provide Albertans with an opportunity to explore what other options are available to them if they wish to expand their experience outside of it,” he said.
“As we come together across Canada to tackle climate change, fostering the next generation of energy innovators is critical to tap into new solutions and decarbonize our sector,” she said.
“As we come together across Canada to tackle climate change, fostering the next generation of energy innovators is critical to tap into new solutions and decarbonize our sector.”– Noreen Farrell, director of sustainability and reporting at Capital Power
Changes in the industry
Both Farrell and Alton explained that the energy industry is trending toward more low-carbon energy production, which is changing the focus of many major companies in the energy sector. This is creating opportunities for Alberta.
“From renewables development to decarbonizing natural gas generation, there are significant opportunities for Albertans to apply new skills and seek meaningful career opportunities in the electricity sector,” said Farrell.
PowerED™’s new micro-credential includes 4 courses:
- Earth Materials, Environment, and Energy Resources
- Fossil Fuels
- Alternative and Innovative Energy
- Environmental Impact Assessment
Students can earn digital badges for each micro-course completed, along with a micro-credential certificate after finishing all 4.
Visit PowerED’s website to learn more about Innovative & Diversified Energy Resources.