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Close energy gap by plugging skills gap

The Energy Institute has called for a boost to the UK’s science and engineering skills base to deal with the roll-out of new energy baseload and transmission infrastructure over the coming decades.

Responding to OFGEM’s recent report on energy security, published last week, the Energy Institute (EI) has emphasised the importance of scientific and engineering skills to secure the UK’s future energy.

OFGEM had suggested that market reforms and up to £200bn of investment was needed to maintain energy supplies, lower costs to consumers and reach climate change targets.

However, EI President and Chairman of Shell UK, James Smith, said: “A major rebuild of Britain’s energy system will need large numbers of people with science and engineering skills to get the job done.

“This spells opportunity for rewarding careers and job satisfaction. It also means we have to close the skills gap fast,” he said.

“Closing the science and engineering skills gap is a big job for government, industry, schools and universities. The skills needed are diverse so apprenticeships for craft skills matter every bit as much as degrees in design engineering.

“There are great careers for men and for women and we will need to tap into all this talent to secure the UK’s future energy,” he said.

Research was conducted in 2006 by the EI in partnership with Deloitte and Norman Broadband.

They found:

  • A steadily decreasing pool of new entrants to the energy market
  • An accompanying decline in the scientific, engineering and technical (SET) skills of these new entrants
  • Increasing competition from other industries for these shortage skills
  • Decreasing numbers of Science Engineering and Technology (SET) graduates choosing to enter a SET career
  • Rapid strides towards large scale retirement year on year
  • Lack of experienced hires for key roles in an expanding industry.

Conversely, a 2007 report by MORI found very high (84%) job satisfaction in the energy sector.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Skills shortage in the construction industry is already debilitating and this is being compounded by the urgent need to make buildings energy efficient, where the expertise for both are rare commodities.

    Considering the need for total Zero Carbon approach toward 2050 it is vital that universities and institutions have to increase their investments while the industry should incentivise recruitment with better salaries and good working conditions.

    In the short term to bridge the gap that expatriates should be permitted to fill especially in the areas of Sustainability, environment and zero carbon expertise until the whole industry is oriented to Zero Carbon. It should be noted that expertise in this area is experiencing a global shortage and therefore special incentives would attract more talent from overseas in the short run.

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