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Renewables to the rescue: Why clean energy businesses should be recruiting now

As the global outcry for climate change action continues, now is the perfect time to attract emerging talent into a career in renewables. With unprecedented interest in alternative energy sources, firms in the industry are best placed to leverage this hype and call on the wider public to help build the talent pools needed to deliver on these growing demands. Here’s how businesses can encourage more people to pursue a career in the renewables sector.

Climate change is at the forefront

Although there has been growing discourse on the importance of clean energy, and the impact burning fossil fuels has on the environment, 2019 stood out as a particularly significant year for building interest on this topic. With advocates like Greta Thunberg, climate groups like Extinction Rebellion and a growing number of governments setting targets to end their contribution to global warming, climate change has never been as much of a crucial issue than it is now. While building interest is certainly a step in the right direction, further action must be taken to ensure that clean energy is produced at the rate needed to make a change and limit any further damage. To do this – we need more professionals.

Why is it important to build sustainable talent pools?

The renewables sector, and the energy industry at large, is suffering from acute skills shortages, and this has unfortunately been the case for several years now. According to a recent Global Energy Talent Index, 80% of hiring managers highlight skills shortage as a key challenge in the renewable energy industry. The dearth of skilled workers exists across various specialisms, including manufacturing and assembly, sales, marketing and financing, and installation and services.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has predicted that off-grid renewables for energy access could create at least 4.5 million jobs by 2030. However, this may be a conservative projection, as the International Labour Organization has estimated that India alone could add three million new jobs if the sector continues with its current growth trajectory.  

However, finding the people to fill these roles will certainly not be an easy task. There is already a lack of individuals entering the sector, and as a large proportion of the workforce who hold senior roles in the industry are reaching retirement age in the near future, this is particularly worrying. There is a fear that there will not be enough professionals available to take over projects, nor will there be enough people hired in time to be developed into managerial positions before others leave the industry.

Sustainable talent pools must be created now, and new professionals must be nurtured into roles that are in high-demand to ensure future projects can be delivered not only on time, but within budgets too.

How to attract a new generation of skilled workers

Over the years, the energy industry has developed a reputation for being dull and old-fashioned – and it’s been rather difficult to shift people’s perception on it. However, one of the main reasons for this negative outlook is that there has not been enough education or promotion of the sector.

The truth is that there are various, fulfilling careers in energy, and renewables in particular has evolved immensely, arguably creating some of the most exciting and meaningful roles now available. When people picture energy jobs, the mind often goes straight to manual, labour-intensive work, however, the scope of available professions is much wider than that.

In fact, a number of renewable energy jobs are tech-driven, and this should definitely be leveraged to attract more professionals from younger generations. According to Glassdoor, the jobs millennials want tend to be high-paying occupations that demand experience dealing with software, data or management – and these can all be found within renewables.

Additionally, it’s well known that workers today increasingly want to make a difference with their jobs and want their employers to do business in a socially responsible manner. According to Cone’s Gen Z CSR Study: How to Speak Z, 94% of the generation believe companies should help address social and environmental issues (vs. 87% Millennial, 86% General Population).

This shows that the renewable energy sector has a massive advantage when it comes to attracting individuals. While people may look to big companies like Google or Amazon to make a difference or provide rewarding tech jobs, businesses should highlight that careers in renewable energy can directly impact the environment and firms should also promote the many exciting opportunities now available.

One of the major implications behind the rapid growth of renewable energy projects is the increasing demand for skilled workers. However, by leveraging the global call for more environmental action, businesses can ensure that they attract not only the numbers, but also passionate people to manage projects and achieve business success. There has never been a more perfect time to find talent for renewable projects, and employers must make sure that they do not miss out on this opportunity.