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The energy transition opportunity to reskill 200,000 professionals

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A new study from PwC suggests that the UK energy industry could have a possible gap of nearly 200,000 skilled professionals by 2030, due to retirements and a lack of planning for specialist training and reskilling. The PwC research on jobs in the energy transition concludes that by 2030, 270,000 skilled professionals from the fossil fuel industries will likely depart as we continue to shift toward a net-zero future. 

At the same time, 400,000 jobs are needed in the low carbon industries including renewables, hydrogen and nuclear. With approximately a fifth of fossil fuel leavers expected to retire, there could be an overall gap of 200,000 skilled professionals for the clean energy industries. These figures raise concerns about whether the Government, public and private industries have created enough plans to reskill and upskill the current workforce and grow the pipeline of fresh talent. The Government developed a Green Jobs Taskforce incorporating key representatives from businesses, trade organisations, education and NGOs. The Taskforce released a major briefing with another due later this year, but some industry experts believe there needs to be more emphasis on a careers and skills strategy.

The Government’s ambition is for the UK to create 2 million green industry jobs in 2030, but there are concerns about fulfilling these targets and achieving its legally binding climate targets.

Carl Sizer, the head of regions at PwC, explains that the biggest challenge will be finding more professionals outside the energy industry to expand the clean energy workforce required for a net-zero future. The opportunity is to deliver highly skilled jobs in areas that lack these available options.

The opportunity to attract more women and others from demographics currently under-represented within the UK energy industry is considerable. One recent report from PwC discovered that women hold just 21% of executive positions in the energy industry, and when observing all roles in energy, under 19% are estimated to be held by women. The industry is also falling behind regarding ethnic diversity, with over 90% of employees being white compared to around 80% of the general population. PwC is proposing the creation of new energy training programmes and technical training schemes available to mid-career professionals. The report explains that a range of measures must be considered to encourage under-represented demographics to explore energy industry jobs. 

The PwC report states that while job losses in fossil fuels are inevitable, job gains in other industries will more than offset the reductions of jobs in these conventional energy industries. PwC explains that up to 90% of job roles in oil, gas and coal are transferable, meaning that job losses within the next few years are likely to be minimal, especially if the private industries accelerate their efforts toward upskilling as transition plans continue to develop. Net job gains are accelerated by the nuclear and offshore wind industries and the Government has increased the targets through the latest energy security strategy. The plans also raised targets for hydrogen, creating another significant reskilling and upskilling opportunity.

While the movement for green energy is significant as the historical industrial revolution, job losses don’t have to be the same as before. People will see their roles transform toward green over time, and many should be able to remain in their business, while others will reach retirement age. Many companies are already advertising for jobs in areas that can reduce emissions. The PwC report explains that over 24% of job adverts in the electricity and gas industries were in these specific roles, representing an increase of over 21% since the previous year.

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