A Threat to Wind Energy Careers?

KMIT • Posted: Friday, September 21, 2012

MASON CITY, IA – The once bright future of wind energy is looking a bit dimmer these days.

The recent announcement that “Siemens Energy” plans to lay off more than 600 workers in three states, including a plant in Iowa, not only affects current jobs, but may also impact those looking to enter the wind energy field.

Since he was a Freshman in high school, Adam Kadner knew he wanted to study a career in wind energy.

He said, “My home school had a wind turbine go up and I was in the shop class and they let us sit there and watch that go on, so I got to see that first hand and that’s when I started learning about it and it’s always been in the back of my mind.”

But today, that career choice may be hanging in a delicate balance.

It comes after the announcement that “Siemens Energy,” a leading wind turbine manufacturer, will be cutting hundreds of jobs. There are also some government hang-ups. A major federal tax credit may not be renewed at the end of the year and while that could create problems in the industry, there’s still hope.

NIACC Wind Energy Professor, Bob Franken said, “It’s definitely not the end to wind energy in Iowa.”

But this news isn’t stopping Adam from going after his dream job.

He said, “In the major realm of things, we’ve actually gained a lot of jobs out of this and we still will in the future.”

With these recent job cuts some may worry that it will lead to less interest in wind energy careers, but local professors say, they still expect their chairs to be filled for semesters to come.

Franken said, “Our numbers are up – we are maxed out in students and our seniors for the most part for industrial systems technology have 2,3,4 positions available to them and all of our wind energy students have no problem finding jobs.”

Franken said that while the recent job cuts are not ideal, students looking to study wind energy have options.

“Wind turbines use the same technology as all machine basics, so that’s what we’ve targeted with this program, is that we wouldn’t have to worry about our students being pigeon-holed in the event that wind would slow down.”

Those layoffs will affect around 400 workers in Iowa alone and will also affect jobs in Kansas and Florida.