Businesses in renewable energy are being encouraged to plan ahead for their recruitment needs as billions of pounds worth of additional funding is announced for the sector.

Huge investments are being promised by the Government and industry into low carbon projects, solar infrastructure, offshore wind and tidal, resulting in tens of thousands of new jobs.

At the same time, the Government is also committing to new oil and gas licences, a revival in nuclear, and new projects in carbon capture usage and storage, which it says will ‘protect 200,000 jobs in a vital industry’ and ‘support up to 50,000 new ones’.

Lee Elwell, associate director and energy specialist at Jonathan Lee Recruitment, which has been supporting businesses with their recruitment needs for 45 years, said: “There is a significant skills shortage in these sectors and while the recent announcements are accompanied by huge numbers of jobs that will be created, we’ve yet to see the detail about any plans to solve the recruitment challenges.

“It’s all well and good promising 50,000 new jobs, but where will these skilled workers come from? And that’s just for one project alone. There would have to be education and training on an industrial level to even begin to meet these needs in the coming years.

“One obvious area for transferring skills would be the oil and gas industry, yet with new plans revealed to slow the decline in domestic fossil fuel production, the renewable energy sector may well have to look elsewhere for employees.

“Hopefully we will start to see new training opportunities being rolled out at scale, but that’s a long-term plan. Some of the projects highlighted will need large numbers of new people in the next 12 months to five years and we’d encourage businesses in this position to start preparing now – candidate numbers are limited, and competition is high.

“Whether it’s a start-up that has won funding for an innovation, or a massive corporation investing in low and zero carbon technologies, these have all got to be staffed.

“We did see a recent investment announcement in the training of insulation installers, which is great, but this is just one tiny area of renewables. There are gaps at all stages of the chain, including the skilled designers and specialist engineers.

“The candidate pool is not growing quickly enough, which means companies must look at other solutions. It’s about putting the wheels in motion well in advance; determining the skills that will be needed and identifying where they might be found, whether that’s a particular industry, sector, or even a geographical location.

“For example, we’ve worked in engineering and manufacturing for more than four decades and know there are people in these sectors with the relevant skills to transfer into the renewable sector.

“Businesses also need to gain an understanding of the sort of benefits packages they will need to offer to be able to win those candidates. Doing this exercise now will also help when it comes to budgeting. Perhaps the solution will lie partly in external consultants or short-term contracts if the skills they need aren’t yet widely available on the job market.

“Or it could be that the best solution is for businesses to develop their own fast track training programmes or qualifications. Either way, it’s best to find that out as soon as possible so it can be planned for.

“We can help businesses prepare for their future recruitment needs now, which will give them the best possible chance of securing the staff they need to achieve their goals.”

To talk about recruitment for your energy enterprise, please contact Lee Elwell (Associate Director, Energy) on 01384 446154, or email Lee.elwell@jonlee.co.uk.