24 Feb Energy industry needs the necessary skills and people to deliver our climate action plans
Sally-Anne Dudley, UK Head of Learning, and Dan Tingle, New Talent and STEM Manager at National Grid recently discussed how UK businesses can prepare and enable the development of new skill workers capable of filling the anticipated rise in green jobs from net-zero.
Measures to tackle the impact of climate change and work towards net zero have accelerated in the last year. The UK government’s ten-point plan, with targets to reduce emissions and the launching of the new Energy White Paper all represent this transition towards net zero. A core part of this movement is the necessity for the UK to generate hundreds of thousands of new green jobs to meet these targets.
Recent studies suggest that the energy industry will need to recruit 400,000 jobs between now and 2050 for the UK to reach net-zero. The London School of Economics estimates that more than six million people have skills that will be affected by the shift to clean energy, emphasising the extent of the impact of this transition and the volume of training required.
Many industries are expected to experience a skills shortage, but for the energy industry, that deficit could have a bigger impact as these jobs are vital and need to be established sooner than later. Approximately one-fifth of the energy workforce is due to retire by 2030 and the competition for talent remains very strong with banking, finance and technology businesses recruiting relevant science graduates. There is also an ongoing concern regarding STEM and encouraging more students to enrol and progress their studies in this area.
Taking into consideration some of these challenges and the need to increase skills in the green industry, the energy industry is facing the difficult task to train new talent to meet the targets and expectations laid out over the next few years. This includes rising the generation of low carbon electricity by approximately 50%, installing low carbon heating to over 2.8 million properties, developing carbon capture, energy storage and hydrogen networks and installing nearly 60,000 electric vehicle charging points.
None of these targets will be possible if the industry doesn’t have the right workforce with the relevant skills. More people are interested and motivated to work in the green industry and support the transition to net-zero. The UK will need to focus on creating a net-zero workforce to tackle climate change and completely transform the energy grid. This will require creating future energy talent, providing investment in young people and encouraging more careers in STEM.
There is no simple and quick fix for this. It will require a collaborative approach from the UK government, energy businesses, talent and industry partners, NGO and educational institutions across all groups and backgrounds. Most importantly is focusing on an inclusive approach that places diversity and inclusion at the core of recruitment and enabling new talent to support in rebuilding the workforce of the future.
This method will need to incorporate new measures such as strengthening partnerships and building engagement with schools to inspire the next generation. Businesses need to work with young people, to show them the opportunities and encourage individuals to new careers in STEM. Apprenticeships represent a key way to establish a long-term workforce, supporting new talent and delivering skilled employees for the energy industry.
Focusing on individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds can ensure that no groups are excluded from plans. The Responsible Business Charter is committed to providing access to skills development for 45,000 people by 2030, focusing specifically on lower-income groups.
Looking ahead to the next year, the Green Jobs Taskforce intends to support the development of two million skilled jobs to build back greener and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Along with the National Skill Fund due to be introduced this year, the necessary measures are being introduced to enable the industry to work towards the right path. The priority is to continue with this momentum, to develop the workforce needed to generate the changes our planet needs.