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The UK‘s energy skills challenge: A decade of change

Posted by: Katherine Garratt 14 Jun 17 - 10:04AM  | Engineering
In part 2 of the blog series by Les Hines, Associate Director and expert at Jonathan Lee Asset Management, examines the UK energy’s skills challenge against the backdrop of fundamental changes facing the sector over the next 10 years. The exert recently featured in Energy World, the monthly journal published by the Energy Institute

Click here to view part I of the blog series – Introducing the energy skills challenge: the ageing workforce, diversity and post Brexit Britain.

The UK‘s energy skills challenge A decade of change

A decade of change

The skills gap is not the only barrier to overcome for the energy sector. The challenge is intensified still with the industry facing a decade of change. Speaking at the Energy UK Annual Conference (November 2016) Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark foresees: “Change on a scale we have not seen since the roll out of electricity grids across the country all those decades ago” with “intense technological innovation in every part of the energy system”.

As the energy mix becomes increasingly fragmented, finding people with the skill-sets to deliver this change across such a diverse energy portfolio is a major challenge. In fact skills and capabilities around managing change in the sector are becoming as important as technical understanding.

For example, there is growing demand for engineers with chartered status to deal with the scale and complexity of major energy projects. Employers are seeking Chartered Engineers that possess the rounded and well tested skills to manage from the initial bid, through construction and operational phases of infrastructure and other major change programmes.

In a similar manner, we are increasingly seeing our clients using specialist interim managers from across the engineering spectrum, to not only manage critical projects, but also to quickly build the skills and knowledge of existing staff.

Because of the traditionally risk-averse nature of the energy sector, flexibility of skills and roles has not been the norm up to now. Transferable skills should not be seen as just the softer attributes a candidate offers but should encompass the application of technologies and engineering principles from other market segments. An example might be expertise in fluid dynamics, which is used in automotive and aerospace already and is becoming more prominent in the energy world or the application of lean methodologies, originally pioneered in the automotive sector, to the specification and operation of plant processes.

Access to a greater pool of potential employees can be leveraged by rethinking job specifications and considering transferable skills. This flexibility requires deeper thinking and real partnership with HR to avoid the common pitfall of judging applications against a standard tick list.

For more information contact Les Hines:

Les Hines CertRP, Associate Director, Asset Management for Energy & Infrastructure
01384 446165   les.hines@jonlee.co.uk
www.jonlee.co.uk/asset-management
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Stay tuned for part 3 of The UK‘s energy skills challenge blog series.


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