As the profession that is spearheading the transition to greener, cleaner energies, and driving the concerted efforts to de-carbonise the world, the energy sector has plenty of appeal for a wide range of skilled individuals. But despite this, there’s a concerning dearth of talent.
From renewables such as offshore wind to solar power and hydrogen for storing, firms are looking for people to help plug and reverse the skills shortages and gaps that are affecting the industry. In this article we look at some of the key ways in which companies in the energy sector can address these talent shortages and boost retention.
Combatting skills shortages
To give an example of just how important the energy sector is to the UK economy, recent research from Make UK, the organisation that champions UK engineering, found that almost one third of companies are now using renewable energy generation onsite. Perhaps more importantly, reducing emissions remains the top priority for businesses with nearly 8 in 10 (77%) seeking to improve their energy efficiency. And as companies strive to reduce consumption given spiralling energy costs, the green economy will play a pivotal role in pushing towards Net Zero emission targets.
As the sector continues to create many job opportunities to meet the rising demand for a skilled workforce, what can organisations do to combat the biggest challenge they face, namely a lack of talent? Given the difficulties in sourcing the right people, organisations in the energy sector must carefully look at their recruitment strategy and job requirements holistically. In such a skills short market, it is imperative to widen their talent pools so that they are not missing out on individuals with transferable skills from oil and gas and other sectors for non-technical people.
Having a well-defined and developed Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) strategy is also fundamental. This starts at the outset, with the application process. Reviewing the language in job descriptions will ensure greater gender neutrality and encourage more women applicants. The use of name-blind CVs will also help attract a more diverse candidate audience. Diverse interviewing panels will help eliminate unconscious bias. From the leadership down to line managers, all key stakeholders must be aligned on the organisation’s D&I objectives so that this is reflected during hiring.
Talent attraction in the energy industry
The inclusion part of D&I is fundamental to retention. If people feel supported, are allowed to be themselves and feel valued for the skills they bring to the business, then they are more likely to stay. This is where development plays such a big part, as research has shown time and again that the opportunity for career advancement is one of the most important factors to potential recruits, especially the emerging generations. So, it’s important that companies have clearly defined career paths and can offer training programmes internally so that people can be upskilled and take on new roles.
As well as offering competitive salaries and training opportunities, organisations in the energy industry must also offer flexible working where it is feasible, allowing their staff to achieve a better work-life through hybrid working. Companies must also be seen to prioritise mental health, especially after the events of the pandemic. Wellbeing programmes to support physical and mental health will long be vital in not only attracting talent, but also helping increase application numbers and retention.
Individuals are also looking to join organisations who are at the cutting edge of technology. The use of AI and machine learning will not only create opportunities for those skilled in these disciplines but also free up individuals to concentrate on face-to-face interaction and other tasks that can’t be automated. AI is also extremely beneficial in the hiring process, given its ability to sift through a high volume of CVs at speed.
Overcoming energy skills shortages
Skill shortages aren’t just going to vanish overnight in the energy sector. But the fact that energy companies are creating job opportunities is a sign of the industry’s growing importance. That will only increase during the next decade and beyond. The challenge for firms now, though, will be in attracting more talent by widening their talent pools beyond the traditional energy sector and looking to those with relevant transferable skills. They must also offer training programmes and environment that is conducive to career growth, with an innovative culture that encourages diversity of thought.
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