It’s fair to say 2023 was a busy year for renewable energy recruitment, and indeed for us here at Jonathan Lee where we’ve seen a 22% increase in energy recruitment over the last 12 months.
It was already a growing area and that upward trajectory is set to continue as the Government ramps up its initiatives and investments as part of the green agenda.
As the net zero deadline looms ever closer, we can expect the recruitment boom to carry on into 2024 and way beyond. Government investment is being mirrored by industry, and 2023 brought several multi-million pound announcements about new gigafactories, solar farms, offshore wind projects and battery storage schemes.
And they all need staffing.
The associated recruitment figures for all these new developments are eye-watering. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of workers needed to drive our environmental transformation over the next 10 years. Far from being a temporary spike; these are the early days of what will become a huge employment sector. If you operate in this space, it’s vital to get ahead of the game.
We know skills is a huge issue across the renewable energy industry – it was one of the main themes at 2023’s packed Solar and Storage Show.
But the fundamental need for more training and qualifications, supported by more promotion of the sector as a career path, is all long-term stuff. What about the businesses which have vacancies right now?
With so many roles that need to be filled, the onus is very much on the employer to do everything they can to find and then secure the right candidates. In a candidates’ market, jobseekers could well have several competing offers on the table – how do you get them to choose you?
This is where it really can pay off to partner up with a specialist recruitment firm and we’ll outline some of the techniques we use to help you get the people you need later in this article.
First, let’s have a quick look at what some of the renewable energy growth sectors are likely to be in 2024.
Renewable energy growth sectors
Electric vehicle recruitment
Auto Trader predicts there will be almost eight million pure electric vehicles on the road in the UK by 2030 (around a quarter of all vehicles). The Institute of Motor Industry predicts 103,000 qualified technicians will be needed to work with electric vehicles (EVs) by then, rising to 124,000 by 2032. The professional body estimates this could result in a shortfall of 16,000 people.
You can read more about how businesses can prepare for the looming EV technician crisis here.
Of course it’s not just vehicle technicians that are needed to meet the demand for electric vehicles – it’s the manufacture of the batteries too.
The Government recently released a whole strategy setting out how the UK can create a robust battery supply chain (for EVs and energy storage) by 2030. This report includes figures from the Faraday Institution which estimates that EV demand alone could boost UK employment by an astonishing 270,000 jobs by 2040.
Solar power recruitment
Solar power continues to grow as an industry and the UK was on track to reach a record 200,000 new small-scale residential installations in 2023.
At the same time, there are enough solar farms currently in the planning system to double the UK’s capacity and this is expected to treble with the next tranche of applications coming through. These will put the UK well on the road to reaching its target of 70GW solar energy capacity by 2035. The Government has predicted some 10,000 jobs will be created in the pursuit of the target.
Offshore wind recruitment
If the UK Government meets its ambitious targets of 50GW of offshore wind, 10GW hydrogen, and up to 30 million tonnes of carbon capture and storage by 2030, the UK offshore energy workforce could swell from 150,000 in 2023 to a staggering 225,000 by 2030, it is predicted.
At the same time, the Government anticipates the creation of up to 50,000 jobs to facilitate new carbon capture usage and storage clusters.
How to get your business recruitment ready
The best thing you can do as a business is to use every tool at your disposal to give yourself the best possible chances of recruitment success. Our top tips for this include:
Defining the skills
This is one of the first activities we undertake with businesses as their recruitment partner. This is about much more than a job title – which could be harder to find in the current market. It’s about determining the type of skills, competencies, experience and values that could be relevant to your vacancies. It might mean focusing on the personal attributes first and then working out how any skills gaps can be overcome through training and development.
2. Defining the package
As with all recruitment where demand outweighs supply, a competitive benefits package is key to winning the best candidates. If your salary scale is way off similar roles being advertised, you’re unlikely to get the quality of applications you desire. The first step is understanding the landscape. We help businesses benchmark salaries and expectations against the industry as part of our recruitment process.
Selling the dream
Even if you’re matching the industry salary benchmark, that might not be enough to seal the deal. Candidates are increasingly interested in development opportunities, flexible working, and wellbeing support. They may ultimately choose a company whose values and goals align with their own. Is your mission clear? Do you have a supportive culture? Making sure these are in place and well promoted as part of your recruitment is key.
Unlocking your talent pool
This is our tried and tested five step process to matching businesses with successful recruits. It’s how we identify the skills needed and use all our networks, contacts and knowledge to find them. It could mean looking at certain industries for transferrable skills or particular locations, or building relationships with training providers to get access to graduates coming through. We will also reach out to our own database, alongside targeted recruitment. You can read all about the five phases of unlocking your talent pool here.
Businesses looking to recruit in the renewable energy market might need to adopt a more flexible approach if they want to overcome skills challenges in the short term. This could mean looking at freelancers, or short-term contracts, slightly redefining job roles, or perhaps waiting a bit longer for the right candidate, whether through head-hunting or a training pathway. Read more about when contracting might be the answer here.
Your strategic recruitment partner
The best thing you can do for your business is prepare for recruitment well in advance. If you know you’re likely to be recruiting in 2024, get in touch with us now to get a plan in place.
With 45 years of experience in technology, engineering and manufacturing recruitment, we’re well-positioned to help businesses navigate these evolving workforce needs.
By partnering with Jonathan Lee Recruitment, you gain a dedicated team that is passionate about supporting your growth journey.