Gareth Bone, Lead Consultant, Power, Electrification and Utilities at Resourcing Solutions says that according to the Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), the UK energy industry currently employs around 140,000 people and accounts for 4.8% of GDP.
At this stage renewable energy contributes a smaller percentage to the sector in comparison to electricity and gas, but with the government predicting that renewables could provide up to 160,000 jobs by 2020 - this is set to increase quickly. In 2007 renewable energy use grew by 8.4%.
Sourcing the right people
Given the skills shortage that many UK industries are experiencing to attract and retain talented people, recruiters need to consider taking a lateral approach for sourcing prospective employees.
One option for renewable energy is to apply ‘cross-skilling’ programmes involving re-training skilled professionals such as civil engineers from other industries to learn and practise new disciplines for renewables such as wind, wave/tidal, bio mass and solar.
In particular the UK’s wind sector has great potential, Bone says. Research carried out for Border Wind suggests that if the proportion of UK energy accounted for by offshore wind power rose to 10% then 36,000 jobs would be created.
These jobs could be further secured by a rapidly expanding global market for renewable energy technology. Wind power is already a US$2.5 billion global industry, with growth of 40% in each of the last five years. An example of what Britain could achieve is offered by Denmark, which has 60% of the global wind energy market. More than 19,000 Danish wind turbines have been exported and the industry employs 12,000 people in Denmark and as many again abroad.
Bone calls on the UK to take the opportunity to become the leader in ‘offshore’ services, just like Germany, Spain and Denmark have become the benchmark in ‘onshore’. To capitalise on this the UK Government would need to lead on education and training for both graduates as well as existing workers wanting to enter the renewable sector.