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CNA poised as green energy education leader

From left: Alex White, John Risley, Krista Lynn Howell, Sean Leet, Heidi Staebon-Simmons during the Sept. 20 announcement. — © Jaymie White / Wreckhouse Press Inc.

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

STEPHENVILLE — On Wednesday, Sept. 20, Krista Lynn Howell, Minister of Education, attended an announcement at the College of the North Atlantic (CNA) Stephenville campus about the Wind Turbine Technician and Hydrogen Technician programs. Members of World Energy GH2, CNA and students currently enrolled in these programs also attended. “I always say that education is the key to unlocking the dreams you have in the future. Through quality program offerings, partnerships, investments, and collaboration, we are all working together to help make the dreams of students come true. To students entering the Wind and Turbine Technician and Hydrogen Technician program here at the College of the North Atlantic, we hope to see you build your careers right here at home as you develop skills in this growing industry and help contribute to the growth of the land laboratory,” said Howell. “I certainly look forward to all the great things that I know are on the horizon for such an up and coming industry where we have an untapped resource of potential in the people of this province who I know will step up to the challenge as we build and transform new land and labour for the future.” John Risley is Chairman of World Energy GH2 and started by thanking everyone who attended. “We know that you’ve been patient in lots of conversations, lots of talk, lots of work, but most of that work is behind the scenes, and you’ll see now, hopefully, as the weeks and months go by, more and more evidence of the project taking shape and things happening inside the community,” said Risley. “So this announcement is really directed at you (the students) as part of our community outreach program, because we believe in the value and the power of education. We’re thrilled to say that the company is going to support full scholarship for you in both the wind farm program, wind turbine project and the hydrogen project. We couldn’t be more thrilled in your enthusiasm for the opportunity and we want to make sure that there are jobs available to you to use these skills that you signed up for.” Sean Leet, Managing Director of World energy GH2 also spoke. “Investing in the future workforce is essential to the success of our project and the success of this groundbreaking new industry. If we’re going to come close to hitting net zero targets and slowing climate change, we must be bold, ambitious and embrace fast-paced change. These are the jobs of the future and these students exemplify the potential for a new level of prosperity and revitalization for the communities in this region. We’re excited to see such a high level of interest with these new programs that are a key part of various plans we collectively have to cement our crop’s reputation as a first mover and leader in the worldwide race to produce green fuels,” said Leet. “We congratulate the 21 students who believe in this emerging industry and project and we’re incredibly proud to support them.” World Energy GH2 remains committed to the project and opportunities for future employees, and cited climate change as a factor. “In late 2021, the partners in World Energy GH2 made a bold decision to invest, move quickly and take a leadership position in the fight against climate change. We are doing something that we had never expected we would be doing, but we’re totally focused and passionate about our mission,” said Leet. “So you never know where opportunity may take you. Thank you for embracing this opportunity alongside us.” Heidi Staeben-Simmons is the Associate Vice-President of Public Affairs and Advancement with CNA. “I want to take this moment to thank World Energy GH2 for their confidence in CNA and for their generous investment in our students of the Wind Turbine Technician and Hydrogen Technician program. This investment not only holds immense significance for our students in these programs, but also carries profound implications for the future of green energy and the economy in our beautiful province,” said Staeben-Simmons. “I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that we’re almost a year post-Hurricane Fiona and the devastating impact on the Southwest coast of Newfoundland. We know what’s at stake here. After an intensive and exhaustive planning process, we were extremely proud to launch these two programs at our Bay St. George and Corner Brook campuses this month.” The college will continue to act on the global shift towards green energy alternatives through its educational programs. “Wind turbines and hydrogen technologies are at the forefront of the global shift towards sustainable energy sources, they represent the future of our energy landscape, one that is cleaner, more efficient, and less reliant on fossil fuel. An investment in our students specializing in these fields means that we are equipping ourselves with the knowledge and skills needed to lead this economic transformation. The partnership between World Energy GH2 and CNA means students will have an opportunity to forge the path to an incredible and successful future,” said Staeben-Simmons. “CNA is also taking an active role in this momentum through the creation of an academic school of sustainable development and a strategic plan that includes green energy and a commitment to shaping sustainable futures for us all that is meaningful for socioeconomic environmental growth. We want to ensure that our graduates are ready to meet the growing demand for skilled professionals in the green energy sector. It also means CNA is positioning itself as a leader in the green energy sector through education and sustainable living practices. We have a unique opportunity to become a hub for renewable innovation and development, all the while reducing our carbon footprint, which is probably the most important part.” One of the program’s current students, Alex White, explained what this project and these opportunities mean for him. “It allows us to move home, stay home, and raise our kids here. It means when I have kids, their grandparents will get to see them every day instead of once or twice a year,” said White. “You can’t deny climate change. It’s here. What the project means to me is, it means a better future for me and my family at home. It represents a better future for my community and the surrounding communities, and it is also a building block towards a better future for the world.”

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