Innovative electrification companies have no option other than to bring in people with transferable skills. We have found time and again that the marketplace cannot offer enough candidates with direct, relevant sector experience because the industry is still in its infancy. This is heightened by a chronic skills shortage across UK engineering and manufacturing, which means employers must think creatively to attain the skills they need to grow their business.
Electrification is an area of rapid growth, with UK energy targets to decarbonise driving the adoption of electric vehicles (EV) and having far-reaching implications for energy infrastructure.
The UK currently has over 16,000 public charging points, and the government has established a £400m fund to finance a much needed expansion of the network, if targets outlined in Road to Zero Government strategy are to be met. This planned network overhaul presents an exciting employment opportunity, as well as the chance to upskill the existing workforce.
Electrical engineering university courses specialising in renewables have become common place in the UK over the past few years, however, businesses are having to tap into parallel sectors to attain experienced power electrical/electronics engineers, design engineers, project managers and commercial managers to bridge the immediate skills gap. There is a clear lack of people with like-for-like experience and a significant number of businesses are finding it hard to recruit the right skill-set and experience.
The majority of potential employees are already in work and not actively seeking a change of role. Employers need to be flexible, creative and proactive in their approach to attracting the talent they need to fill business critical roles. In the short to medium-term, at least, it will be vital to utilise candidates with these transferable skills. It is the only way businesses will be able to grow.
I have seen first-hand successful examples of people transferring from traditional energy spheres into electrification. Some businesses will naturally be cautious about transferable skills, but we have seen people from utilities and power move into EV charging – an area of huge growth – and they have performed fantastically well. Similarly, people with traditional automotive design skills are often suited to other product design roles.
While many sectors face uncertainty in post Brexit Britain, electrification is bucking the trend with robust government backing and capital investment facilitating growth. Even traditional petroleum companies have acquired electric charging network businesses in a bid to safeguard their futures as demand for cleaner vehicles soars, with BP acquiring Charge master last year and Shell New Motion in 2017.
Electrification has a sustainable future, and employers can leverage its stability to attract highly-skilled people. The industry is also at the early stages of adoption, making it an exciting time to be a part of; it’s not hard to sell a move into the industry for those wanting a new challenge, involvement in special projects and the opportunity to innovate in unmanned territory. The UK may not be a forerunner in EV adoption, but there is a comprehensive strategy in place and multiple start-up companies emerging.
This all means there will be some exciting opportunities on offer – and a genuine chance for people to think about how their existing skills could be used to branch out into other sectors.
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