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New Funding to Prepare Canadian Workers for Jobs in the Net-Zero Economy

Iron and Earth is pleased to expand its existing programs and add new initiatives to increase the number of workers ready to meet the demands of Canada's growing green economy.

For Immediate Release:Trainees and workers on our RenuWell project
June 7, 2023

Iron & Earth is continuing to reduce barriers to building community-led climate solutions for a sustainable future through engagement, training programs, infrastructure projects, and career platforms.

  • 2200+ participants in Iron and Earth’s training and upskilling programs.
  • 57 community sessions.
  • Provide renewable energy career transition options, tools, and resources.
  • A revamped Climate Career Portal for workers, employers, and educational institutions interested in a transition to a greener economy.

These are just a few of the tangible impacts Iron & Earth will have over the next 12 months thanks to $16M in new funding through the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program. The SWSP helps key sectors of the economy implement solutions to address current and emerging workforce needs by funding organizations to deliver projects that focus on a range of industry-driven activities.

As a national not-for-profit organization founded by fossil fuel workers in 2016, Iron & Earth provides programs designed to empower energy industry workers, Indigenous Peoples, and their communities to work in the renewable energy sector.

The funding will support Iron & Earth’s efforts to work with employers who are seeking skilled workers who want to be part of the Clean Economy. A 2021 Iron & Earth/Abacus poll found that 8 out of 10 workers surveyed were interested in training for jobs in the net-zero economy. The SWSP-funded initiatives will help those workers gain access to sustainable and meaningful employment and ensure the programs are available to equity-deserving groups, including Indigenous Peoples. Included in the expanded programs are wrap-around support for expenses such as childcare, dependent care, or travel costs which might otherwise make it difficult for workers to develop new skills.

All key factors in building a sustainable future for workers and their families:

“There’s a growing demand for skilled workers in the low carbon economy. It is imperative we minimize barriers for Indigenous workers and communities to access the growing opportunities within the sector. With support from the federal government, Iron and Earth will empower workers with training and upskilling, and foster connections with employers looking to meet demand.”
-  Canada’s Minister for Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion, Hon. Carla Qualtrough

A key component of Iron & Earth’s mandate is to empower communities to build and implement their own climate solutions. Funding is available for small scale renewable power generation systems built by the community, for the community. As Canada moves towards the net-zero targets set for 2050, these emission reducing projects will be key to energy diversification and a cleaner environment.

And Canadians can make it happen:

“We are a global leader in green energy because we have the resources and we have the workers. Energy workers know how to lower emissions and build up renewables like wind, hydrogen, and solar. We’re giving them the tools to get the job done.”

- Canada’s Minister of Labour, Hon. Seamus O’Regan Jr.

Global markets are shifting toward cleaner energy and this new funding will help meet the demand, train workers in their own communities, and address the fear that many workers and communities have about being left behind in the transition to a net-zero economy.

Iron & Earth’s Executive Director Luisa Da Silva said these fears often get in the way of workers embarking on a new career path:

  “Canadian employers are finding it tough to find the skills they need. Skills that are in demand.  From a workers' perspective, they are often faced with taking a chance on a new job or trying something different in their career. That takes courage. This funding will ensure workers who want to make the transition have a soft landing, and takes the risk out of making a change to better themselves, their family, and their community.”



Quick Notes:

  • Iron & Earth’s work since 2016 has brought awareness of sustainable energy alternatives to Canadian communities.
  • Our training programs have afforded workers the opportunity to learn new skills and work while staying in their community.
  • A solar power generation initiative in Nunatsiavut not only provided supplemental power to a remote community, but trained local youth in the installation and maintenance of the system.
  • The RenuWell project in Alberta turned 2 abandoned well sites into solar power generation sites which came online in early 2023. The proof-of-concept could be applied to 100,000+ inactive orphan wells in Alberta alone.
  • In partnership with the Louis Bull tribe of the Maskwacis Nation of the Treaty 6 territory in Alberta, workers were trained in solar power installation. Local workers worked and trained alongside oil and gas workers to install a solar power system for the local daycare centre. This means a new generation of youth will grow up with solar power generation as part of their everyday life.

“In the past, our Indigenous ancestors had a strong connection to the environment. Earth, water, fire and air were a big part of our ceremonies, livelihood and contributed to day to day survival of Indigenous peoples. The transition to the renewable and energy efficiency practices are aligned with Indigenous ancestral practices. We can all do better for each other and future generations.”
- Desmond Bull, Chief of the Louis Bull Tribe


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For more information or to arrange an interview contact:

Mike Spear
Director of External Relations,
Iron & Earth
Cell # 403-813-5843

For general program information please check our current project page

Iron & Earth is committed to partnering with Indigenous workers to empower their communities to become self-sufficient in training programs, clean energy transition projects, and employment opportunities to combat environmental racism. It falls to all of us to continue the work of healing and reconciliation in our communities and our organizations. Our relationship with the land and the people who live here shapes who we are. It is in the spirit of reconciliation and honouring the past that we recognize treaties and agreements wherever they are and wherever we work.

We also acknowledge all peoples who live, work, and play on this land, and who honour and celebrate this territory.
As individuals and teams we may make mistakes along the way, but we are dedicated to growth, openness, compassion, and forgiveness. These principles in our work are essential to building successful and healthy relationships with individuals, communities, organizations, and governments.

We look forward to building a path to lead us to a better relationship with Indigenous nations and the environment around us based on peace, friendship, and respect.