Head Office: +44 (0)1502 564892 headoffice@peoplewithenergy.co.uk
Orbis Energy Office: +44 (0)1502 509350 orbis@peoplewithenergy.co.uk
Phone Icon Email Icon Upload Icon

Skills Shortage for the Energy Industry

Industry News
Posted on: 21/09/2023

Site working safety uniform on a bench

The energy industry is at a crossroads, facing a skills shortage that could possibly threaten its growth and sustainability.

The demand for skilled professionals in this sector has never been higher. In this article, we'll delve into the pressing issue of the skills shortage in the energy industry, exploring its causes, consequences, and potential solutions.

The Energy Industry's Growing Appetite for Talent

The first question that comes to mind is, why is there such a high demand for skilled workers in the energy sector?

The answer lies in the industry's rapid evolution. With a global push for energy the need for professionals who can design, implement, and maintain new energy technologies is skyrocketing. Traditional fossil fuel-based energy sources are still very much required but we’re also seeing a big growth in wind, solar, and other renewable alternatives.

As governments worldwide commit to reducing carbon emissions, ambitious projects like building offshore wind farms, expanding solar arrays, and constructing advanced power grids are moving at breakneck speed together with more traditional energy projects. These projects demand a specialised workforce with expertise in engineering, environmental science, and technology.

The Consequences of an Energy Skills Shortage

But what happens when there aren't enough skilled workers to meet this demand?

Increased Costs:

A shortage of skilled workers in the energy sector often leads to project delays and reduced efficiency, which in turn can increase the costs of energy production. These increased costs are usually passed on to consumers in the form of higher energy bills, affecting both individuals and businesses.

Limited Innovation:

A lack of skilled professionals hampers the development and implementation of new technologies. The energy sector is in constant need of innovation to improve sustainability, reduce emissions, and increase efficiency. An insufficient talent pool means that these important advancements may be slowed or stalled altogether.

Economic Impact:

The energy sector is a cornerstone of any modern economy. An inadequately skilled workforce can lead to reduced productivity and competitiveness on a global scale. Furthermore, job vacancies that remain unfilled due to skills shortages can result in economic losses as the sector struggles to meet demand.

Sustainability Goals Compromised:

Many countries have ambitious targets for transitioning to renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. A shortage of skilled workers in areas like solar and wind energy, battery technologies, and smart grids can significantly hinder progress toward these important sustainability goals.

Each of these consequences contributes to a ripple effect that goes beyond the energy sector, potentially affecting the quality of life and economic stability. Addressing skills shortages through effective recruitment, training, and educational initiatives is crucial for mitigating these risks.

Identifying the Root Causes

Although several factors contribute to this dilemma, it's essential to understand two of the main underlying causes.

The retirement of experienced workers:

As the baby boomer generation exits the workforce, they take with them a wealth of knowledge and experience that is challenging to replace. Apprenticeships and young workers within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or energy sector are just not keeping up to fill the void.

The evolving nature of the energy sector:

The skills required today are not the same as those needed a decade ago. The rapid pace of technological advancement means that workers must continually update their skills to remain relevant. The industry and educational requirements are now becoming dauntingly large.

So, how do we bridge the skills gap in the energy industry?

Bridging the Gap - Education and Training

People sitting in a classroom

Education and training are key: Educational institutions must adapt their curricula to align with the industry's evolving needs. Investing in STEM programs is crucial to producing a new generation of skilled energy professionals.

Apprenticeships and on-the-job training programs can also play a significant role in nurturing talent. Companies can collaborate with schools and universities to provide hands-on experience to students, ensuring they are job-ready upon graduation.

The UK's energy sector is at a pivotal juncture, balancing the demands of a greener future and ever-increasing energy consumption. Attracting top-tier talent to this critical industry is paramount, and here's how the UK can go about it.

  • Find an Apprenticeship: The UK government's official website provides a streamlined solution for those interested in apprenticeships. The site offers a comprehensive database that lists a multitude of apprenticeship opportunities across various sectors. Easy to use and regularly updated, the platform is designed to connect aspiring apprentices with potential employers.

  • T-Levels: T-Levels are a game-changing educational initiative in the UK, aimed at providing high-quality technical qualifications that are on par with A-levels. Designed in collaboration with industry experts, these two-year courses offer a blend of classroom learning and on-the-job experience, making them highly relevant to the modern workforce. Read more about T-levels

  • Invest in Education & Training: First and foremost, talent cultivation needs to start from the grassroots level. Creating partnerships with universities and vocational schools to develop curricula focused on renewable energy, energy management, and smart grids can groom students for a career in the sector. Offering scholarships and research grants can further motivate students to join this field. Read more about educational partnerships

  • Competitive Salaries & Benefits: The financial aspect cannot be neglected. Offering competitive salaries and benefits such as extended parental leave, pension schemes, and robust health packages can make the energy sector more attractive to prospective employees.

  • Work-Life Balance & Flexibility: While the energy sector is often associated with demanding work conditions, changes can be made to improve work-life balance. Flexible working hours, remote work options, and mental wellness programs can contribute to employee satisfaction and retention.

  • Public-Private Partnerships: Finally, the government and private sectors must work hand in hand to foster talent. Policy changes to incentivise investment in green energy or tax breaks for companies recruiting in the UK can spur the industry forward.

  • Government Support and Incentives: The government also has a responsibility to play a pivotal role in addressing the skills shortage. By offering incentives to companies that invest in workforce development and green technology, governments can encourage growth in this sector. Tax breaks, grants, and subsidies can make it financially attractive for businesses to train and hire skilled workers.


Someone holding a stickynote that reads 'Ask an Expert'

What are the most in-demand skills in the energy sector?

In today's rapidly evolving energy sector, several skills are highly sought after by employers. Here are some of the most in-demand right now:

  • Renewable Energy Expertise: With a growing focus on sustainability, professionals with expertise in renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower are in very high demand. This includes knowledge of installation, maintenance, and optimising energy output.

  • Data Analysis and AI: Data analytics and artificial intelligence play a crucial role in optimising energy production and distribution. Professionals who can analyse data to improve efficiency and reduce waste are in great demand.

  • Cybersecurity: As the energy sector becomes increasingly reliant on digital infrastructure, protecting against cyber threats is paramount. Cybersecurity experts are needed to safeguard critical energy systems.

  • Electrical Engineering: Electrical engineers are essential for designing and maintaining the electrical grids that transport energy from production facilities to consumers.

  • Environmental Sustainability: Professionals who understand the environmental impact of energy production and can develop sustainable practices and policies are in demand.

  • Project Management: Effective project management skills are vital for overseeing large-scale energy projects, ensuring they stay on budget and meet deadlines.

How can individuals prepare for a career in the energy industry?

Here are some great websites where candidates can see what opportunities are available and how to ensure you’re fully updated on industry trends and technologies:

  • EEEGR (East of England Energy Group): Have a core program called “Skills For Energy” which focuses on delivering skilled people to the industry for long-term careers, resources for students and industry training.Opportunities and training

  • National Grid Careers: National Grid offers various internship and apprenticeship opportunities in the energy sector. You can explore their openings on their careers page.

  • EDF Energy Careers: EDF Energy provides apprenticeships and internships in different areas of the energy sector. Check out their jobs and careers page for current opportunities.

  • British Gas Careers: British Gas often has apprenticeship and internship programs related to the energy industry. You can find their job listings on the British Gas careers website].

  • Get to grips with the basics: Tailoring your CV to a specific job role and brushing up on your interview techniques can be often overlooked, but these have a massive impact on your chances of success. Check out some of our essential candidate resources.

Are there job opportunities in the energy sector for non-technical professionals?

The energy sector is a dynamic and expansive field that offers opportunities for professionals without a technical background.

Here are the most in-demand, non-technical roles our clients are asking for.

  • Business Development and Sales: The energy sector relies heavily on business development and sales professionals to promote renewable energy solutions, energy-efficient technologies, and energy consulting services. Your expertise in matching the right talent with the right organisations can be invaluable in these roles.

  • Project Management: Project managers are the glue that holds many energy projects together. They coordinate timelines, budgets, and resources to ensure the successful execution of energy initiatives. Your organisational skills and ability to manage teams can make you a sought-after candidate in this area.

  • Environmental and Regulatory Compliance: The energy sector is increasingly focused on sustainability and compliance with environmental regulations. Non-technical professionals can find fulfilling careers in roles related to environmental impact assessments, regulatory compliance, and sustainability reporting.

  • Marketing and Communications: Energy companies need effective marketing and communication strategies to convey their messages to stakeholders. Professionals skilled in branding, content creation, and public relations can make a significant impact in promoting energy solutions.

Check out the People with Energy jobs board. You’ll find some great technical and non-technical roles here.

What role can East Anglia play in addressing the skills shortage in the energy industry?

row of beach houses

East Anglia has amazing regional potential and is a hub for supplying top talent to the energy industry and here’s why:

Proximity to Renewable Energy Hubs:

East Anglia, with its extensive coastline, is strategically positioned to harness the power of renewable energy sources like wind and solar. The region is home to several offshore wind farms and is a hub for renewable energy development. Leveraging this proximity, we can train and deploy skilled workers in various aspects of renewable energy production, from maintenance to project management.

Collaboration with Educational Institutions:

East Anglia houses numerous universities and colleges. Collaborating with these educational institutions to tailor curricula towards the specific needs of the energy sector can help bridge the skills gap. This partnership can provide students with the knowledge and practical experience required for careers in the energy industry.

Supporting Research and Innovation:

East Anglia is also a hotbed for research and innovation for not just energy technology but also leading the way in tackling climate change and developing a sustainable future. Just look at some of the great work that CEFAS do.

By investing in research centres and fostering a culture of innovation, our region can attract talent and contribute to the development of cutting-edge solutions for the energy sector. This not only addresses the skills shortage but positions East Anglia as a leader in the field of training, development, and recruitment.

Empowering the Future of Energy

The skills shortage in the energy industry is a complex issue with some significant implications. However, by investing in education, training, and workforce development, as well as offering incentives and promoting diversity, we can address this challenge head-on.

The energy industry is at the forefront of combating climate change, and it's imperative that we equip it with the skilled professionals it needs to succeed in this crucial endeavour. Only then can we unlock the full potential of clean and sustainable energy sources for a brighter and greener future?

If you are looking for a position in the industry, get in touch with our team of consultants or browse our job listings. Give our office a call on 01502 564892 or email us cvs@peoplewithenergy.co.uk

All our latest vacancies are posted on our jobs board and don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn for all the latest news and vacancies for the energy industry.

Stuart Smith

Business leader and skills champion for the east of England.

Stuart Smith