Skills and Education Needed for a Robust Renewable Energy Workforce

The foundation of a strong workforce will be pivotal in the global transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that in 2012 there were as many as 5.7 million people employed in the renewable energy sector. Yet despite this, there remains a critical shortage of skilled personnel to develop, design, finance, build, operate and maintain renewable energy projects, representing one of the greatest barriers to the wider diffusion of renewable energy technologies.

The boom in solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind technologies, in particular, has created a huge demand for skilled technicians – to install PV, and to maintain and operate wind installations. There is also a pressing need for trained professionals within educational institutions to teach renewable energy courses, within governments to design and implement effective and efficient policies, and within financial institutions to accurately assess renewable energy project proposals. 

Insufficient education or training can result in project delays and operational and maintenance failures, which in turn affect the profitability of projects and give misleading impressions about the reliability of renewable energy as a whole. If renewable energy deployment targets are to be achieved and job benefits maximised, it is necessary to increase education and training in the sector.

From 2 to 8 October, IRENA held three webinar sessions that brought together expert panelists from the European Energy Centre (EEC), an internationally recognised non-profit training institute; Alingho, a human resources firm that supports companies in the fields of renewable energy, clean tech and sustainability in filling job vacancies; and the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

The webinar highlighted the skills in demand in the public and private sectors, identified skills shortages within sub-sectors, and shared information on training and education, critical to develop a strong workforce in the renewable energy arena. The webinar also examined barriers and considered steps to address the skills needs in the sector.

IRENA Renewable Energy Learning Partnership (IRELP)
Hugo Lucas, IRENA

European wind energy training needs and predicted skills shortage
Angeliki Koulouri and Filippo Gagliardi, EWEA

Recruiting and HR development as one of the key drivers for future success in the renewable energy sector
Axel Von Perfall, Alingho Renewable Energy Experts

The European Energy Centre: Promoting renewable energy best practice in renewable energy since 1975
Paolo Buoni, EEC

Webinar video

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