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Upskilling Crisis in the UK Energy Sector: A Threat to Net Zero Goals

The United Kingdom’s ambition to transition to greener energy sources and combat climate chan…

The United Kingdom’s ambition to transition to greener energy sources and combat climate change is facing significant challenges. A recent report highlights that many UK energy workers are skeptical about the sector’s preparedness for a sustainable future.

Key Findings from the Report:

  1. The research, conducted by City & Guilds in collaboration with EngineeringUK, surveyed 1,000 energy sector workers. It found that a mere 42% believe that businesses are equipped to meet the commitment to decarbonise the energy sector by 2035. Similarly, only 42% think that the Government is providing sufficient support for this transition.
  2. Alarmingly, less than half (46%) of the respondents felt confident in their skills to support a zero-carbon energy system by 2035. This concern is heightened by the anticipated decline in high carbon industry jobs. About 60% of workers in this sector foresee their jobs being at risk by 2025 due to the push for decarbonisation.
  3. On a positive note, 91% of the surveyed employees are open to transitioning to low carbon industries in the future.
  4. The energy job market is witnessing significant changes. Data from Lightcast indicates a 1114% growth in job postings for renewable energy managers from 2019 to 2022. In contrast, postings for oil and gas analysts have decreased by 43.4% during the same period.
  5. However, barriers to transitioning to low carbon roles persist. Only 33% of energy workers believe they possess the necessary skills for the future demands of the sector. Additionally, 26% are unaware of how to access relevant training to adapt to industry changes.

Notable Quotes from the Report:

  • Andy Moss, Chief Customer Officer at City & Guilds, emphasized the need for action: “It’s great to know that over 90% of the high carbon energy workforce are interested in transitioning to greener jobs. To meet the skills needs of the sector, it’s vital we create opportunities for people to do just that. If we don’t act now, we’ll almost certainly lose the race to a more sustainable future.”
  • Dr. Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, stressed the importance of collaboration and diversity: “The sector must work together with government to grow a diverse workforce able to achieve joint aims and ensure its prosperity into the future. Only by improving workforce diversity and enjoying the breadth of talent available can the sector fill its skills and labour gaps and maximise its innovation.”
  • Elena Magrini, Head of Global Research at Lightcast, highlighted the role of skills in the energy transition: “The key to adapting to these changes is to think less in terms of changes to industries and jobs, and much more in terms of skills. For the Government to achieve its aims, it will need to set about understanding the skills that are needed, and work with education providers, economic developers and employer groups to ensure the right education and training programmes are in place to deliver.”

Recommendations:
The report, titled “Bright Futures: Decarbonising the UK’s Energy Workforce,” offers several recommendations:

  • Establish robust policy frameworks to provide market certainty and encourage industry investment in skills.
  • Promote local and collaborative efforts to support a just transition.
  • Prioritize investment in skills and lifelong learning.
  • Collaborate on skills, training, and qualifications to ensure a strong skills pipeline.

The findings of this report underscore the urgency for the UK to address the upskilling crisis in the energy sector to achieve its net zero goals.

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