How I switched from a career in coal to working in renewables | Paul Clarke

How I switched from a career in coal to working in renewables | Paul Clarke

It’s vital that unions and employers join forces to ensure staff can transfer their skills into low-carbon businesses

• Paul Clarke is a former engineer in a coal-fired power station

In the past, industrial change was poorly managed, leading to skilled staff being made redundant, withdrawing from work or drifting into less skilled employment. Anyone who remembers the dole queues after the closure of our country’s coalmines in the 1980s may be rightly wary of promises of a “just transition” for fossil fuel workers as we move into a net-zero future. But, it doesn’t have to be this way, and I’d like to share my story as a testament to what is possible when we come together to properly prepare for the future.

Three years ago, I worked at Cottam, an EDF coal-fired power station in Nottinghamshire, as a professional engineer. I was proud of my job. My skills kept the country’s lights on and kettles boiling. It was more than a career for me, it gave me a sense of purpose.

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