Renewables enjoys unmatched popularity for workers across the energy spectrum who are looking for a change, research has highlighted. Despite this, renewable energy firms including wind developers, investors and manufacturers are set to face a challenge in retaining their talents.
That is the finding of recruitment firms Airswift and Energy Jobline in the third edition of their Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) published in January.
The report is based on a survey of over 17,000 professionals and hiring managers in 163 countries, and provides an analysis of the workforce of the energy sector globally. This includes the oil and gas, petrochemicals, power, and nuclear sectors, as well as renewables.
This found that renewable energy, including wind, is the preferred sector for workers in other parts of the energy world who are looking for a change.
This includes 47% of workers planning to move from the power sector; 42% of oil and gas professionals; 31% of those in nuclear; and 25% from petrochemicals.
In addition, half of workers (51%) in renewables reported a pay rise in 2018, with 26% enjoying an increase of more than 5%. This this is in line with results in nuclear, power and petrochemicals, but beats the struggling oil and gas sector, where 41% reported a pay rise last year. That said, oil and gas still pays better than the rest.
And there are other encouraging results. Seventy-eight percent of people currently in renewable energy would still enter the sector again given the choice, and the percentage rises to 85% for under 25s. This is great for the industry, although the bullish growth prospects for wind and solar over the next decade mean the result is unsurprising, though welcome.
So far, so good. But the GETI research shows there are challenges ahead.
The most worrying one is that while 78% of renewables professionals were happy to have gained experience in the sector, nearly the same amount is open to leaving. In 2018, 77% of the renewables workers said they would be open to move, compared with 43% in 2017.
The main reason given by those considering a move from renewables was for their career progression (36%), followed by interest in the wider industry, innovation and technology. Forty-eight percent of those considering a move from renewables would look to the power sector, and 38% oil and gas.
The renewable energy sector is able to attract talent, but needs to work on its ability to retain it. Therein lie the lessons for companies in the renewables sector.
This research shows that professionals are attracted to renewables and want to gain experience of it, but that many want to use this as a jumping off point for sectors that offer a more structured career path and higher salaries. Renewables companies are outperforming oil and gas in key areas, including training and development, diversity and the opportunity to work with new technologies – but you can’t argue the power of paycheques and promotions.
Another factor that creates uncertainty for workers in renewables is that the sector is still seen as very vulnerable to political changes. The business case for renewables including wind may be improving, but investors are still reliant on political support for wind and solar – even if that doesn’t come in the form of direct financial support.
This meant that one quarter (24%) of renewables professionals questioned saw the political landscape the most worrying issue for the sector. This is unique across the energy sector, and it creates uncertainty for people’s long-term career plans. Recent changes to support in key markets, such as Germany and the US, hasn’t helped.
Working in renewable energy is undoubtedly exciting and the industry is on the cusp of major growth over the next decade. This will attract people to work in wind, but it is up to companies to give clarity over how they can develop further.
Looking at how things are done in sectors including oil and gas is a smart move.
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