Making the talent transition from oil and gas to renewables

By Jeremy Denton
Jeremy Denton, Safety Specialist at Airswift, shows how it's possible to transfer skills to renewables after a 15-year career in oil and gas

The industry-wide digitalisation and decarbonization of energy is massively expanding career choices for professionals.

Airswift’s latest Global Energy Talent Index showed that one-in-four oil and gas professionals were hired from another sector in the last 18 months and more than three-quarters would consider joining another energy sector in the next three years.

Safety professional Jeremy Denton worked with Airswift to transition onto some of America’s leading solar, offshore wind and smart grid projects after a 15-year career spent primarily in oil and gas. Here he shares his experiences that have helped build and transfer skillsets.

Building transferable skills in the energy sector

As an entry-level refinery worker in the 1990s, Denton immediately began looking for ways to learn widely applicable skills that would boost both progression and career flexibility.

Noticing high demand for safety skills in the heavily regulated oil and gas industry, he worked to study safety certifications including the OSHA 500 Trainer Course in Construction Safety and Health and was employed as a specialist safety professional for his refinery. 

These skills allowed him to rapidly rise to project safety manager level for some of the world’s biggest oil majors from bp and Exxon Mobil to Valero and Shell.

Transferring skills to renewable energy sector

As a multi-skilled safety professional specialising in construction, Denton found his skills are a natural fit for a flourishing renewables industry undergoing accelerated development.

“This is a great time for a career move as renewables are booming across the US with so many projects coming online. Oil workers’ fortunes float on the price of a barrel while renewables offer stability and job security. I was also drawn to the tech innovation involved in a new industry that is scaling at speed and learning on the fly.”

Creating a circular economy of skills for the energy sector

Having previously placed him in a contract role for a project with Marathon, Airswift helped Denton take the leap into a career in green energy, submitting him for a position on the greenfield construction of a 200MW solar facility in Arizona for AES.

Denton secured qualifications from the two safety professional organisations essential to operating in renewable energy – the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and the Utility Safety and Operations Leadership Network. This has enabled him to pursue a varied career in safety project management for leading-edge renewable projects including Southern California Edison’s major grid modernisation and overseeing safe seabed surveys for new offshore wind platforms.

Denton now mentors other professionals switching from fossil fuels to renewables.

“I see transitioning talent across as part of an ethical mission to preserve vital energy skills that are otherwise lost forever in boom-and-bust cycles. Just as the circular economy can reduce waste and preserve assets, a circular economy of skills can help the energy industry preserve invaluable expertise for future generations.”

Jeremy Denton is Safety Specialist (third party) for Airswift, the international workforce solutions provider within the energy, process and infrastructure industries.

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