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Reducing the talent gap in the renewable energy industry

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The energy transition has generated multiple new job opportunities across various markets, but a significant skills shortage remains. The World Energy Transitions Outlook report by Irena discovered that to support the transition to clean energy and to meet our climate goals, renewable energy sector development will need to expand from 12 million in 2020 to 38 million by 2030.

Collaboration between government, educational groups and businesses is one of the most critical ways the industry will tackle this talent gap. Adel El Gammal, the secretary general of the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA), highlights the vital role of the government in funding training and development measures. Gammal explains that the European Battery Alliance Academy, supported by the EU, intends to reskill 800,000 individuals over the next three years, a prime example of a plan focusing on the skills gap for specialist and non-specialist workers. Projects like this can determine the best opportunities for employee training, whether the responsibility is with the Government, Educational groups or the private industry.

John Barrie, the global head of training at Vestas, believes that the responsibility lies with the government and education groups to support education and training for renewable energy jobs and highlights the potential of these careers, particularly in declining markets. Barrie explains that Vestas is exploring this and highlights the challenge of connecting people to funding and jobs.

Working with the educational groups

Many people are working closely with the educational group to raise awareness of the opportunities in renewables, but industry professionals say more action within institutions is required, and the younger generation needs to be actively engaged. There needs to be accelerated awareness of the opportunities available to young people. They must be informed about this at primary school, not just secondary or university because it’s their energy future.

Responsibility for awareness depends on the employer, educational groups and the government. El Gammal highlights that academia needs to accelerate quicker to understand and manage the requirements of the renewables employment market. It goes beyond people understanding technology. It’s about recognising the complete transition. 

John Barrie, global head of training at Vestas, explains that the exponential growth in renewables means employers are entering a phase of significant competition for the same roles, and the challenge has been accentuated by a lack of skills and people coming through the education system. Focusing recruitment resources on a specific technology isn’t the solution for employers. It’s not just about seeking engineers, it’s about finding installers and other specialists and ensuring everything is in place to allow for the accelerated deployment of low-carbon technologies. 

Green and climate specialists have highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion strategies that will make a big difference, emphasising how diversity can drive better decisions and increase profitability. Upskilling leaders on inclusive management goes beyond gender and includes exploring new concepts, location, age and everything. We must be more creative and open to mixing different opinions and locations to deliver a global network and leadership community. Diverse hiring offers an opportunity for the renewable energy industry. With a diverse workforce comes more innovation to create the necessary solutions.

Attracting future industry talent

Overcoming the perception of businesses can be challenging when attracting talent. Promoting how particular companies diversify away from fossil fuels and into renewables requires reskilling and new professionals joining the market. The main challenge is raising brand awareness in the industry and highlighting the diversity of green opportunities available. People are increasingly looking for more value in a business and being part of a solution-based organisation that creates a sustainable world for the future. 

Other energy industry representatives highlight career development opportunities as more of a priority than brand image. People want to know how to progress and grow within an organisation. One of the priority challenges for all renewable energy employers is authenticity. The reality of the employee experience has to be the same as what candidates gain when initially attracted to the role.

The energy industry is experiencing a massive transformation. Traditional businesses are chasing a shift in purpose and values, while renewable-focused companies are increasingly growing to satisfy increasing targets. Filling the emerging job opportunities depends on creating solutions that work with government and educational groups, enhancing diversity and developing influential employer brands.

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