Today we have William Johnson the founder of Wind Tech Recruiters on tap for a great interview on GreenJobs.com. Wind Tech Recruiters specializes in placing candidates in wind and other renewable energy areas.
William has over 12 years of experience in the industry. He started out as an entry level engineer with NextEra Energy and worked his way up to Regional Manager over a portfolio of wind sites. He then left there and went to Nordex as an Area Manager and then decided to start Wind Tech Recruiters to help solve the talent crisis developing in the wind industry.
GreenJobs.com - Thanks for doing this interview William. Can you tell me about WindTechRecruiters? The history, what you guys do, etc.
William Johnson - Wind Tech Recruiters started two years ago to connect companies trying to grow in the wind industry with better talent faster than they could do on their own. Although we started out focusing on Wind Technicians, we support our clients needs by filling management, engineering and corporate office positions across the renewable industry. We value relationships and help guide our candidates to grow their careers based on our industry experience and network of client companies.
GJ - Why focus on exclusively Wind Energy?
WJ - We started in Wind because of our experience there but we strive to add value and have moved into additional areas. We now have positions in wind, solar, construction and other areas of the energy industry. Most energy professionals have overlapping skillsets that can benefit other portions of the industry.
GJ - What are some interesting things you have learned specifically about the Wind industry?
WJ - I think the most interesting thing is the impact that Wind and Solar have on our rural communities. This is an industry where someone with a high school diploma and a certification can start a career and live in some of the countries most beautiful rural communities in America. Those jobs are bringing new people into places that would not otherwise have new jobs and large capital investments.I have also seen the impact on those communities where new schools and other major improvements have been made possible from the tax revenue from renewable projects. The renewable industry has had a great impact on communities that are often overlooked.
GJ - What are your thoughts about the Green New Deal? Is the GND something you see the United States and other countries passing legislation on?
WJ - I think the Green New Deal was bold but not received well due to the politics behind it. We need a national strategy on our energy policy that encourages investment and building infrastructure but is market based and encourages the participation of industry and other stakeholders in the renewable industry. We have to think of energy in terms of decades and not fiscal years to really get it right.
GJ - Do you believe a Green New Deal would be positive for Wind Tech Recruiters and the entire green jobs space?
WJ - It really depends on the implementation of the GND. I have heard a lot of promises from politicians but what matters is the legislation that is actually passed. If there were a national strategy that considered the impact on the free market and incentivized wise investment, Wind Tech Recruiters and the renewable industry would benefit. The American people and the world would also benefit from reductions in pollution and CO2 emissions.
GJ - What countries have great wind energy programs?
WJ - It depends on your definition of "Great." China has made amazing investments in renewable energy building over 12 GW since 2014 however their approach would not be right for the USA. There are multiple countries in South and Central America that get the majority of their electricity from renewable energy, although they are an order of magnitude smaller than the US. There are also countries showing great leadership in moving forward with renewable energy initiatives such as Sweden, Germany and Denmark who all have bold plans over the next 20+ years.
GJ - Do you think the US in behind other countries when it comes to Wind Energy?
WJ - We are behind in some respects because we have not set a national vision of the future. With that being said we are #2 in the world behind China in installed wind capacity. When we get our ducks in a row, we will provide leadership for the world with respect to modernizing and integrating wind and solar into the grid. It's going to take large investments as well as government and industry working together to move forward.
GJ - What do you think motivates people to want to pursue careers in Wind?
WJ - Great careers with good pay and benefits are a start. Also, this is one of the fields that people who prefer hands on education versus classroom instruction can thrive in. The jobs are located in really great communities often with low cost of living. The jobs also allow a person to see the direct result of their work quickly. When I was in the corporate office we measure progress in months and quarters. When I moved to the field we measured progress on a daily/ weekly basis. It made it easy to see the fruits of our labor and real time giving a real sense of accomplishment.
GJ - Do you have recommendations for job seekers that are interested in working in the Wind Energy field?
WJ - If you have not worked in the industry get a certificate at a college that provides hands on instruction. I have seen programs that allow people to spend a few thousand dollars to start a career within 6 months of starting the program. Anyone who wants more information about solid wind programs can email me at info@windtechrecruiters and we will share information to get them started in the industry.
Be ready to travel in the beginning as traveling jobs are the most common entry level positions. By traveling you get to see a cross section of the industry and meet people who you may work with later in your career.
Do the right thing when nobody's looking. The wind industry is very small and people talk. You can close doors in the future by not doing the right thing on every job.
GJ - Do you have advice for recruiters that might want to pursue recruiting for green jobs? Such as the wind industry.
WJ - Learn the industry and take care of the candidates as well as the clients. This is a small industry and people talk.
GJ - Where do you see the Wind Energy industry in the next couple years?
WJ - That is the million dollar question. The expiration of the PTC [wind production tax credit] will have an impact on wind construction but there are over 100 GW of installed Capacity according to AWEA [American Wind Energy Association]. Construction activity may slow down temporarily but the installed capacity will continue to support Wind Technician as one of the fastest growing jobs in the US.
GJ - If you were not working as a recruiter, what do you think you would be doing?
WJ - In the future, I will be pursuing the growth of residential and distributed solar. Right now we are at the nexus where reductions in the cost of solar will for the first time be lower than the cost of purchasing electricity from most local utilities. As electric cars gain adoption and battery technology decreases in cost we will see more people doing the math that solar is the way to go for the future.