Survey: Renewables workforce concerned about future skills shortage

A relatively young workforce in the renewables sector could create a future skills shortage unless mentoring and coaching is improved, while hiring managers across the energy sector are increasingly willing to recruit from other sectors to inspire "a new way of thinking" into companies.

Those are two of the key takeaways from the first Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) which surveyed more than 16,000 energy professionals and hiring managers across 156 countries to examine the relationship between employers and the workforce across five energy sectors.

The report, which surveyed workers in the oil and gas, renewables, power, nuclear and petrochemicals industries, notes that 20% of hiring managers believe that there are too few professionals moving into the renewables industry, which has an estimated workforce of 8.1m globally.

Produced by workforce solutions provider Airswift, in partnership with energy industry job site Energy Jobline, the report highlights that 60% of the renewables workforce is aged 44 or under. But, these younger workers – in comparison with the other sectors – could suffer from a skills shortage in the future, as around 80% of the respondents raised concerns about the future of the industry in fostering specialised skills.

Energy Jobline’s managing director Hannah Peet said: “Our results show that this is crunch time for the renewables sector. One in five hiring managers think there’s a lack of talent coming into the sector and inadequate planning could be to blame.

“Yet instead of being alarmed by these figures, hiring managers should see them as an opportunity. They’ve recognised this early and while they still have a relatively young workforce. But they need to move fast. By putting the right practices in place now they can avoid unnecessary pain in the long-run.”

A younger workforce may alleviate concerns regarding retiring talent, but the report highlights the need for more practices to be introduced to boost training prospects for those entering the renewables sector and for coaching standards to be raised to improve the existing workforce.

Hiring managers are frequently looking from outside the sector in order to introduce “a new way of thinking” to sectors undergoing radical change during a low-carbon transition. The survey found that 75% of hiring managers would recruit from other sectors.

More broadly, the survey found that more than half of the workforce predict that the energy sector will be boosted by an increase in salaries over the next 18 months. However, response from hiring managers is less optimistic, with just 23% agreeing with the workforce.

Our survey says…

An edie survey previously revealed that the average annual salary of men working as energy, sustainability and resource efficiency professionals is £11,500 higher than women – more than double the average gender pay gap of £5,732 for the whole of the UK.

A separate edie survey was also conducted to examine company use of global frameworks and mechanisms such as the Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), science-based targets, carbon pricing and natural capital accounting to drive their sustainability planning, measurement and strategy.

The survey found that 55% of respondents said they were either beginning to apply science-based targets, or that the methodology was already fully embedded in their strategy. Just over a third (35%) of respondents said the adoption of science-based targets was on their radar, while less than 10% said they were not considering them at this stage.

Matt Mace

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