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Renewable Energy Recruitment: New Opportunities for Fossil Fuel Workers?

  • Recent cultural and legislative developments are spurring growth in the renewable energy recruitment sector.

  • This increased demand for skilled workers is beginning to outweigh supply; the industry currently lacks the talent to meet this surge in roles.

  • Consequently, we anticipate an increase in pressure in the clean energy recruitment sector to create new training initiatives and migrate skilled workers from the fossil fuel sector. 

For many people, recent eco-friendly initiatives and legislative changes are a cause for celebration.

In the US, for example, the passing of a new bill will deliver $400 billion of additional aid to renewable energy projects and the electric vehicle (EV) market. Known as the Inflation Reduction Act, it passed in August 2022 and offers support to the renewables market, predominantly in the form of tax credits.

Companies have responded positively, suggesting the bill will drive growth and create a rapid increase in job opportunities in the space.

America isn’t alone here either. In fact, in countries around the globe, the number of clean energy jobs is soaring while demand for fossil fuel workers dwindles. From an environmental standpoint, this sounds positive. Yet unless renewable energy recruitment can meet the demand for new talent, the global clean energy sector may fall victim to its own success.

In this article, we’re going to detail the potential issues involved and discuss how the shifts in global energy markets are creating opportunities for fossil fuel workers.

The Shift from Fossil Fuels to Clean Energy Recruitment

The International Energy Agency recently released a report on jobs in the energy market (published in September 2022). In it, the authors suggest the global employment scales may have tipped away from fossil fuels in favor of clean energy.

Simply put, for the first time in history, renewable energy staffing needs may surpass those of the fossil fuel industry.

Indeed, the report notes that 40 million people worldwide hold roles in the renewable energy sector, which represents 56% of global jobs in the energy market. Those are impressive numbers that seem set to grow. The report projects an additional 13 million jobs will be added to the sector by 2030.

We’re seeing this happening in America due to the Inflation Act we discussed above.

For example, in response to the bill, Honda and Toyota have both announced plans to build new EV battery plants; the tax subsidies should also allow companies to allocate more capital to the research and development of battery technology.

As you’d expect, such growth in the research and development space, coupled with an increasing number of battery manufacturing plants, will inevitably require an influx of skilled workers.

Current estimates place the number of US roles in renewables at over 440,000. Yet early projections following the new bill suggest this number will reach 1 million by 2030. The Research Vice President at the trade association American Clean Power, John Hensley, states:

“There will be the establishment of an entire supply chain that will build upon industries that are already well established”.

A Double-Edged Sword for Green Energy Recruitment

Here-in lies the challenge. From solar energy and wind energy engineers to renewable energy staffing companies, these new roles require new talent.

However, with demand beginning to outweigh supply, this could become a major bottleneck for the growth of these industries around the world.

As Kerstin Knapp, the Executive Vice President for People and Culture at Vestas Wind Systems A/S has said: “[a lack of skilled workers] is really an underestimated element of the energy transition”.

Already, renewable energy recruitment firms are finding it difficult to fill key roles, including safety experts, construction managers, and cybersecurity professionals; solar power companies in the US are struggling to find qualified applicants as well.

How Fossil Fuel Workers Will Help Counter Renewable Energy Staffing Deficits

What’s the solution? In the short-term, it’s expected that many of these new renewable energy jobs will be reallocated to skilled workers who currently hold positions in fossil fuels. Given the rapid transition to renewables happening across the globe, we anticipate a shift in profession for coal, gas, and oil workers.

As Caton Fenz, CEO of ConnectGen, says:

“You’re talking about major project management skills, and those are absolutely transferable”.

Unfortunately, with such rapid growth anticipated in this space, we also expect this migration of talent into new roles to be insufficient. Ultimately, the demand for skilled workers who can manage energy projects of this scale will require training and development to create specialist renewable energy workforces.

This suggests that we’ll see a jump in the number of training programs, degrees, courses, and educational opportunities for talent looking to break into this market.

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A New Era for Renewable Energy Recruitment

In summary, we believe that the expected boost to renewable energy recruitment will offer talent in the fossil fuel industry an opportunity to transfer into new and exciting roles that will provide them with training, career development and professional growth.

If you are a company considering hiring, we welcome the opportunity to present our services and capabilities. If you are a candidate, please check our jobs page or contact us to discuss your background, skills, and future aspirations. We always look forward to keeping in touch and exchanging ideas, insights, and opinions.

Giles Dalton
Managing Director | Partner, Singapore

+65 9644 2225

EA 18S9493 | R1216422