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The shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy on a global scale is creating job opportunities worldwide. However, many employers are facing a challenge due to a lack of skilled workers in this rapidly evolving field.

Employment in the renewable energy sector will increase to 38 million by 2030. Therefore the demand for skilled workers across engineering, planning, project management, technical, ecology, communications and business development will pose a significant threat if employers do not seek ways to bridge the skills gap which currently exists within the renewable energy sector.

According to a 2022 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the shortage of skilled professionals could become a significant barrier to the growth of renewable energy

Why is there a talent shortage within the renewable energy sector?

There are many reasons why the renewable energy industry faces a skills shortage such as competition for the same roles but according to John Barrie, global head of training at Vestas, he says the challenge is emphasised by a “lack of skill and lack of people coming through the education system”.

Another reason is to do with the very specific skills required for installation and grid engineering to help speed up the process of deploying low carbon technologies. Conversations and working closely with industry, education and government also needs to be more aligned to help shape the next generation of skilled engineering talent.

Furthermore, there’s the added challenge of direct competition with other industries. The renewable energy sector competes with sectors such as technology and finance, which are renowned for their lucrative salaries and benefits packages. These specialised fields often attract highly skilled professionals, posing a significant challenge for renewable energy companies to compete for top talent.

Strategies to overcome the renewable energy talent shortage

  1. Investing in Training and Development: Employers could offer internships/apprenticeships to individuals interested in entering the renewable energy sector. This helps bridge the skills gap by providing relevant education and hands-on experience.
  2. Collaborating with Educational Institutions: Employers could collaborate with universities, colleges, and technical schools to develop curriculum tailored to the needs of the renewable energy industry. By working closely with educational institutions, employers can ensure that graduates are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge.
  3. Offer Competitive Salaries and Benefits: To attract and retain top talent, employers in the renewable energy sector should offer competitive salaries and benefits packages. This includes perks such as flexible work arrangements, health insurance, retirement plans, and opportunities for career advancement.
  4. Promote Diversity and Inclusion: Employers need to recognise the importance of diversity and inclusion in driving innovation and creativity. By fostering a diverse workforce, companies can tap into a broader talent pool and benefit from different perspectives and ideas.
  5. Partner with Industry Organisations: Employers should collaborate with industry organisations and associations to address common challenges, share best practices, and advocate for policies that support workforce development in the renewable energy sector.
  6. Promote Career Pathways: Employers should promote career pathways in renewable energy by highlighting the diverse range of roles available within the industry. This includes positions in engineering, project management, research and development, sales and marketing, operations, and maintenance.
  7. Develop strong employer branding: Creating a strong company brand that showcases mission, values and culture helps to to attract individuals who align with their vision.
  8. Invest in learning and Development: Offering opportunities for continuous learning and development can attract ambitious candidates and encourage them to stay as well as keep up with the latest renewable energy trends.

Wind Energy

  • Specialised Training Programs: Employers in the wind energy sector often offer training programs focused on wind turbine technology, maintenance, and operations. These programs may include certifications from organisations like the Global Wind Organisation (GWO).
  • Collaboration with Technical Schools: Employers could partner with technical schools to develop curriculum specific to wind energy, covering topics such as turbine design, installation, and maintenance.
  • Investment in Research & Development: Employers could invest in research and development to innovate and improve wind turbine technology, creating opportunities for engineers and scientists with expertise in areas such as aerodynamics and materials science.

Solar Energy

  • Solar Installation Training: Employers could provide training programs for solar panel installation and maintenance, often in collaboration with industry associations.
  • Development of Solar PV Technology: Companies could invest in the development of advanced solar photovoltaic (PV) technology, driving demand for engineers and researchers with expertise in areas such as semiconductor physics and electrical engineering.
  • Collaboration with Solar Energy Research Institutes: Employers could collaborate with solar energy research institutes to advance the understanding of solar energy generation, storage, and integration into the grid.

Hydrogen

  • Hydrogen Production and Storage Training: Employers offer training programs focused on hydrogen production methods, storage technologies, and safety protocols. These programs may include hands-on experience with electrolysis, hydrogen compression, and fuel cell systems.
  • Research and Development Opportunities: Companies could invest in R&D to develop cost-effective and efficient methods for hydrogen production, storage, and utilisation. This creates opportunities for scientists and engineers with expertise in chemistry, materials science, and chemical engineering.
  • Collaboration with Universities and National Labs: Employers should collaborate with universities and national laboratories to advance hydrogen research and develop new technologies, maximising expertise from academia and government research institutions.

Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS)

  • Battery Technology Training: Employers could provide training programs focused on battery technology, including battery chemistry, manufacturing processes, and system integration. These programs may include certifications from organizations like the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
  • Collaboration with Battery Manufacturers: Employers should collaborate with battery manufacturers to develop and deploy advanced energy storage solutions. This creates opportunities for engineers and technicians with expertise in battery design, testing, and manufacturing.
  • Integration with Renewable Energy Projects: Companies could integrate BESS with renewable energy projects to provide grid stability and energy storage capabilities. This requires expertise in project management, electrical engineering and grid integration.

Overall, addressing the skills shortage in the renewable energy sector requires a multi-faceted approach that involves collaboration between employers, educational institutions, government agencies, and industry stakeholders. By investing in training and development, offering competitive compensation packages and promoting diversity, we can address reducing the skills gap within renewable energy.

If you are experiencing a challenge with sourcing highly skilled renewable energy talent, we can help you. We have placed a significant number of candidates in roles within wind energy, solar energy, BESS and hydrogen so why not contact our team today to discuss your hiring needs?