As you may have seen a new study has highlighted the worrying extent of the UK’s skills gap in science, technology, engineering and maths.
According to the report, commissioned by Shell Springboard, there is an annual deficit of 50,000 STEM graduates which could mean our low-carbon economy missing out on £6.7billion of annual growth by 2023.
The report’s authors urge the Government – whoever holds the keys to Downing Street on May 7 – to make plugging the skills gap a key plank of its low-carbon agenda.
While the role of Government and Big Industry is undoubtedly crucial, there is also an exciting role for the renewable energy sector to play in helping to address the shortage of new talent needed to ensure the UK is not left behind in the low-economy stakes.
There has, perhaps, been a natural inclination for employers to look for ready-made candidates they can pick off the shelf, rather than looking to develop their own talent or promote the opportunities available to employees in related industries to transfer their skills across to the renewables sector.
In a way, this plays into the hands of companies like ours, Hyperion Executive Search, with clients regularly asking us to find the renewables equivalent of the “needle in the haystack”. That’s fine, we do it well, but what about the long term?
If we are to continue to take full advantage of the opportunities opening up to the renewables sector – and help tackle the skills gap identified in Shell’s report – we need to put in place a longer-term strategy.
Wouldn’t it be terrific if the renewables sector came together with its own high profile campaign to highlight the opportunities available both to employees looking to transfer their skills and to those entering the workplace for the first time?
As well as promoting such opportunities, we would also have to be ready and able as an industry to invest the time, resource and training necessary to help them make the smooth transition to our sector.
Engineering and science, as well as cutting edge innovation and technology, are the life blood of the renewables sector. It is up to those of us already committed to our sector to do everything we can to ensure we are continually attracting the best talent to an industry with so much to offer.