Powering Up the Energy Industry

As reports of the terrible impact human activity is having on the planet have been increasing, so have levels of consumer awareness. With views on climate change, pollution, wildlife decline and habitat destruction shifting significantly, the spotlight is being put on businesses, organisations and politicians to make a positive change. At the heart of this activity sits the Energy sector. In this blog, we are going to put recruitment in the Energy industry under the microscope to best examine how the government’s Net Zero emissions target is going to be reached.

Power Politics

First, a bit of background. In June 2019, our government became the first major economy to pass the Net Zero Emissions Law. This has committed the UK to end its contribution to global warming by 2050. A big step for any complex economy and a big change for the industries that will be instrumental in achieving these targets.

Fast forward to January 2020; a report has been released by the National Grid (in collaboration with YouGov and independent research partner, Development Economics) that explores the impact of so much transformation on the Energy workforce.

This report has highlighted that the UK will need to recruit for over 400,000 jobs in Energy by 2050. A significant figure when you consider that only 144,000 people across the UK are currently employed directly by the sector.

Renewing the Industry

The workforce needed to upgrade the UK energy network to accommodate electric vehicles means lots of recruitment

Net Zero by 2050 is a big target. Infrastructure that has been in place for decades has to be modified and new technologies installed in order to meet the deadline. In the next 10 years alone, there are big tasks to be completed before phase two of the plans can be put into action, including:

  • Increasing low carbon electricity generation by c.50% from sources such as wind and solar.
  • Installing low carbon heating systems in c.2.8 million homes.
  • Developing carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) technology, and developing hydrogen networks.
  • Installing c.60,000 charging points to power c.11 million electric vehicles.

These actions are the building blocks of the UK’s Green Energy success and they will require plenty of people to complete on time. Luckily, job roles falling under the net zero workload are packed with purpose – a fact that the National Grid hopes to harness. “Over three quarters of UK adults (78%) want to play a part in reaching the UK’s net zero goal and more than half (57%) want to work for an organisation that helps us get there. Tapping into this powerful motivator is key to building a diverse and effective Net Zero Energy Workforce.”

Challenging Environments

Recruitment in the skilled sectors has become a fierce environment and many industries, including the Energy sector, have been missing out due to high competition. This has been further worsened by a lack of students being encouraged into STEM qualifications (as discussed in a previous blog) from a young age. This lack of incoming talent is one that needs to be tackled immediately by education institutions and influencers. Research carried out by Development Economics for the National Grid has found that the number of A-level candidates studying Physics needs to increase by 24% and Maths by 19% in order for Britain to meet its pipeline of skilled talent.

At the other end of the generation spectrum, the ‘baby boomer retirement crunch’ has further exacerbated matters. 2017 marked an important transition in the demographic of the UK workforce, with the ratio of workers to non-workers reversing. As the baby boomer generation have rapidly begun to enter retirement, the number of dependants has begun to rise. Existing talent in the Energy sector is being pushed to its limits.

To overcome these challenges, opportunities for existing employees to retrain need to be made readily available. Additionally, inspiring the younger generations to choose a path in STEM occupations is crucial.

Electrifying Opportunities

There are a wide variety of roles that are coming on to the market in this recruitment drive:

  • civil, mechanical and electrical engineers
  • data analysts
  • machine learning experts
  • skilled tradespeople.

Over the course of the Net Zero project new roles are also predicted to emerge, including those linked to electric vehicles, hydrogen and carbon capture technologies.

If you already work in the oil and gas fields, you will inevitably be given the opportunity to move over to work in CCUS or will be offer training opportunities to gain the new skills required to work with hydrogen. If you are currently in these fields, keep your eye out for personal development opportunities across the UK.

Regional Outlook: Energising the East

Whilst it is estimated that the North of England is going to see the greatest number of job opportunities (nearly 100,000), the East of England is expected to require the creation of 27,900 new jobs in the Energy sector. This is an impressive increase with approximately 7,700 people currently employed by the industry in the East.

With a well-established reputation as a home for a diverse variety of Energy focused businesses, from oil and gas to renewables and nuclear, the potential for the East to become instrumental in the approaching recruitment drive is great.

Off shore wind is one of the answers to our Energy capturing future

At Select Appointments Lowestoft, we are working closely with East Coast College OWSC (Offshore Wind Skills Centre) to promote the sector in the region. Through the college’s L2 Diploma – Safe Working Practices In The Wind Industry programme, we aim to help those students that have undergone training in the energy industry start a bright future after education and we want to become a point of contact for any career related queries in the Eastern Energy hub.

We are also members of the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) who also have an education initiative called Skills for Energy (SfE) that hopes to help fill the skills gap in the industry. If you are looking to train in a relevant field in Energy or know someone who is, please take a look on the College’s website or get in touch with the Programme Head at EEEGR.

Alternatively, if you are already a qualified professional in the Energy industry and want to make the move to a new challenge, or are looking to hire, Select can help. Get in touch with your local office and they will be able to advise you.

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