The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Finding Talent the Creative Way: Are Your Race Horses Pulling Plows?

When it comes to hiring, the biggest issue renewable energy employers face today is finding the right engineers with the right skills for their businesses. This can be identified as "talent mismatch," or an imbalance in the labor market between the people applying for positions and the skills required. The very nature of the renewable industry, with its constantly evolving technologies, presents great challenges for employers when it comes to finding the right matches for their mission-critical positions. But there are progressive actions that renewable energy employers can take to secure the right talent for future productivity. In fact, there are three simple considerations: identifying transferrable skills from other industries, using creativity to put people in the right positions, and offering dual-ladder career paths.

To really address this talent shortage, employers must move away from a “stop-gap” hiring mentality and address the bigger picture of how to attract and retain quality engineers for the long term. By first identifying transferrable skills from other industries, employers can take advantage of skillsets from a wider talent pool to introduce “new” talent to the renewable energy space.   Most skills required within the renewable industry actually mirror those learned in other engineering fields.  So although candidates may lack the specific industry knowledge, their skillsets often already support the technical requirements of roles.

Take the aerospace industry as an example: those working in aerospace powerplant design are addressing similar design challenges as those working in the wind industry; the common thread being both applications are built around the concept of a turbine for generating power. It’s the same with the automotive industry: the metals and composites used here are also being used in renewables. It’s crucial for employers to broaden their mindsets and think creatively and flexibly around the problems they face across the whole industry. In doing so, it may just become apparent that the solutions are right in front of them. Whether engineers are willing to apply learned skills to new and growing areas like renewable energy, however, remains to be seen – what is clear, though, is that those who are eager will offer much-needed talent solutions for employers. 

In addition to exploring related industries for talent, today’s renewable energy employers must be more creative when it comes to putting people in the right positions within their organizations.  By re-examining the assets that are right in front of them, employers can oftentimes find immediate solutions to hiring challenges.  We refer to this as the “race horses pulling plows” problem – a problem that employers can easily fall into.  It’s vital that employers ensure their workforce’s potential is used intelligently and profitably – in the same way that a farmer wouldn’t use a race horse to plow his field, employers must seek out untapped skills to build strong, prosperous workforces.   

At Experis, we see the same bottleneck occur in many organizations: corporations need to attract junior talent but only have highly skilled technical roles available.  As a result, potential stars are working in day-to-day maintenance roles when their skillset could — and should — be better utilized elsewhere. By shifting this talent upwards, moving the skilled maintenance workers into more technical positions, employers can free up the more process-focused roles that are suitable for junior talent and allow them to hone their craft.  Ultimately, a creative approach to hiring can help employers build from within by keeping talented individuals and developing skills that enable business growth.

Over the long term, retaining top talent becomes increasingly difficult, especially as highly skilled engineers continue to be in top demand.  To keep the best and brightest talent in place, offering dual ladder career paths is an important hiring strategy to adopt for the future.  The normal career curve for engineers rising up the career ladder is to ultimately transition from senior, technical positions into managerial roles. However, this progression results in a critical loss of their expertise, operational insight and technical knowledge.  What we’re hearing from engineers is that they don’t necessarily want to move into the managerial roles and away from technology, but there is currently little incentive for them to remain on this path versus higher paid managerial roles. A potential solution to this, and something that we are beginning to see within the renewable industry, is a dual structure. This allows senior technicians to progress in their technical capacity while being paid in line with those moving into managerial roles, ultimately retaining their skillset and contributions to the business. 

As an industry, as employers, as employees, there is much work to be done to decisively tackle the talent shortage problem. In 2012, employers need to take a long-term view of their talent management strategies and identify those transferrable skills within their current workforce to utilize existing talent and create the most valuable path of development for future workforces. Those employers adopting a more creative approach to optimizing workforce skills will be in a stronger position to ensure their next-generation of staff is skilled, stable and engaged.

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox - FREE!

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World Magazine and our award-winning e-Newsletter to stay up to date on current news and industry trends.

 Subscribe Now



A Case Study in Energy-Transition Momentum

Tim King South Australia is clearly at the forefront of the global energy transition as it establishes a fast-moving model oth...

US Senate Democrats Unveil Energy Bill That Restores PTC and Extends ITC

Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg Senate Democrats unveiled a bill that would provide more tax credits for renewable energy while killing some tax ince...

Sage Grouse Removed as Threat to Biggest Wind Farm in U.S.

Christopher Martin, Bloomberg Billionaire Phil Anschutz’s plans to build a $5 billion wind farm in southeast Wyoming will no longer be stymied by t...

CEO Gilles: Challenge in Geothermal is to 'Level Playing Field' with Wind, Solar

Jennifer Delony The current challenge for the geothermal energy industry is what U.S. Geothermal CEO Dennis Gilles calls “leveling th...

PRESS RELEASES Welcomes Jennifer Delony as Associate Editor

PennWell Corporation is pleased to announce that Jennifer Delony has joined the company...

Customized Energy Solutions Executes Agreement with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (“MassCEC”) and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”) for Important Energy Storage Study

Customized Energy Solutions (CES) has entered into agreements with Massachusetts Clean ...

CleanTX Releases New White Paper on the Future of Texas Solar in Texas

We love this new White Paper from our clean energy partners CleanTX

Sun Xtender® Launches New Website at

The newly designed website for Sun Xtender solar batteries is now live on the World Wid...


energy efficiency

Beyond the Trend: Maximizing the Impact of Your Energy Efficiency Solution

A revolution is happening in the energy sector. From the new regulations pushed out earlier this summer by the EPA’s ...

Northeast States Create Cap-and-Trade Program for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Northeast states have worked together for several decades to address air quality issues and, more recently, climate c...

Why the Solar PV Industry Should Love Geothermal Heat Pumps Pt 2

It’s a marriage made in heaven: Solar PV and Geothermal Heat Pumps Part 2 of a 6-Part Series Prevailing Heati...

Park District Goes Solar, Saves Big While Preserving Open Space

Not only do community parks provide green space for recreation and leisure, they also increase property values, attra...


Rich’s current role is that of Vice President of Engineering Services for Experis, a ManpowerGroup company. In this capacity, Rich is responsible for developing and implementing Experis’ go-to-market strategy in the Engineering vertical across Nor...


Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Successfully Integrating Solar: A Proactive Approach

•      What does the increasing solar penetrati...

Solar Power Asset Management and Performance

SEIA and SEPA collaborated with industry leaders to present the first ev...

Solar Power Northeast

  From the team that produced Solar Power Southeast and the sol...


Saving Vs. Gaining

Whenever I do a national keynote speech or customized coaching session f...

SPI Brings Out The Best In Solar

Phew…...those cross-country flights sure take a lot out of a guy....

Join us at the New Solar Power Northeast

From the team that produced Solar Power Southeast and the sold out P...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now