The Sunak government’s lack of leadership towards transforming Britain’s skills base in energy is putting the jobs transition at risk, stranding workers in unwanted trades, a survey of the sector’s employees has found.
Less than half of technical practitioners in gas, electricity and renewables say they’re happy Westminster is delivering the skills transition needed to decarbonise UK energy production by 2035. The same minority, 42% of workers, believe energy companies – including their employers – are on track
Technical standards supervisors City & Guilds and government advisors Engineering UK jointly commissioned the poll. Its thousand respondents were split equally between workers in oil, gas and coal, and technicians qualified in future-oriented low carbon disciplines.
The poll comes as economists Lightcast report skyrocketing demand for low carbon workers. Job postings for renewable energy managers grew elevenfold in the three years to 2022. Over the same period, vacancies for oil and gas analysts slumped by 43.4%.
Among hydrocarbons specialists including in the North Sea, 60% believe the move to clean up Britain’s power system will threaten their jobs by as early as 2025.
A willingness to acquire new skills exists, but respondents said the government isn’t nurturing it. The poll found only 33% of energy workers believe they have the skills they need to adapt to any future changes in the energy industry.
A quarter, 26%, say that they don’t know how to access training that will allow them to adapt to future changes in the industry.
In its report, Bright Futures: Decarbonising the UK’s Energy Workforce, City & Guilds calls on Whitehall to
- maintain clearer policy, enabling industry to invest with confidence in new skills
- work with national and local partners to support a just transition
- foster investment in technical training including re-training
- strengthen and support a robust skills pipeline
City & Guilds’ chief customer officer Andy Moss said: “Over 90% of Britain’s workers in high carbon energy are interested in transitioning to greener jobs. Yet many employers tell us uncertainty over the timing and scope of major energy projects inhibits their ability to invest in skills for the long-term.
“We must unite to tackle the problem. If we don’t act now, we’ll almost certainly lose the race to a more sustainable future.”
EngineeringUK CEO Dr Hilary Leevers added: “The sector must work together with government to grow a diverse workforce able to achieve joint aims and ensure its prosperity into the future. The numbers in vocational training and studying at university are insufficient to meet demand. So, in addition to reskilling and retraining those already in work, it’s imperative there’s a sustained and growing investment in training and education, including apprenticeships, T levels and academic routes.
“It’s vital to invest in bringing a more diverse range of new entrants into engineering and technology, giving more young people from a wider range of backgrounds the chance to pursue a rewarding career and bring their different perspectives to the fore. Only by improving workforce diversity and enjoying the breadth of talent available can the sector fill its skills and labour gaps and maximise its innovation.”
The C&G-Engineering UK survey adds to a growing torrent of criticism that financier Sunak’s administration has lost interest in the world’s climate catastrophe and its effects on the UK.
Independent scientists on the government’s own Climate Change Committee Last week, catalogued a slew of backward steps taken during Sunak’s first months. Licensing in Cumbria the nation’s first coal mine since the 1980s, and probable opening of the new Rosebank and Cambo oil fields, headed the list.
Sunak’s environment minister Zac Goldsmith quit 48 hours later, telling the prime minister he was showing inadequate leadership in addressing the climate challenge.
With too few heat pump technicians trained to meet the government’s targets of 600,000 installations by 2028, two years ago skills organisation XXXX launched up its own initiative, independent of government, to accelerate the passing on of skills
Read the report here.