Renewable energy needs sustainable source of talent

Huge potential in the renewable energy industry, which could provide 10,000 direct jobs by 2020 in the tidal and wave sector alone, requires a solution to a shortage of talent.

This week, the South-West of the UK was named as the location for the nation’s first Marine Energy Park, which will stretch from Bristol as far as the Isles of Scilly.

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David Blake, renewable energy group manager at Allen & York, tells Recruiter: “We are finding that there is a definite shortage of talent within the renewable energy market and that it is also very hard to find the talent when it does exist.”

The estimate of 10,000 jobs being supported by the wave and tidal energy generation sector by 2020 comes from industry body RenewableUK’s report ‘Channelling the Energy’.

The report says: “It is thought that the existing skills base will be insufficient to deliver the industry growth needed”, although it adds that it is a resolvable problem.

David Green, director of the Renewables Training Network, a project jointly funded by the industry and the government, administered by RenewableUK, tells Recruiter that the introduction of a wind turbine service technician apprenticeship in 2010 shows that small steps in the right direction are already being taken.

Green adds that geography is one major challenge for finding talent for often-remote renewable energy projects, but adds that “entrants with strong mechanical and electrical engineering backgrounds, along with other relevant cross sector skills will be well placed to move into this market”.

Blake agrees that such sectors do provide relevant skills, but believes that contending with the issue in the present, rather than hoping for future developments, is a challenge.

He says: “There is no ’one size fits all’ answer to the problem. [But] If the recruiter is a true specialist then they should be able to find ways of sourcing professionals outside the market and offer realistic advice based on previous experience.”

Blake says the oil & gas, aerospace and wider energy industries are the best sources of talent at the moment, with various European markets also proving fruitful.

As reported by recruiter.co.uk in September last year, universities and industry are set to provide training for graduates in windmill and wave energy technologies beginning this month, following a £6.5m investment from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Renewable energy needs sustainable source of talent