Key employment trends for the power industry in 2021

February 12, 2021

The line between the power and renewables sectors are becoming increasingly blurred. Although this could be seen as a threat for power professionals, it also unlocks a plethora of opportunities. 

With a sector-wide skills gap and the impact of COVID-19, it’s important that employers in the power industry do everything they can to retain their workforce. 

Every year, we work with Energy Jobline to produce the Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) report, which is based on survey responses from professionals within the oil and gas, renewables, petrochemicals, nuclear, and power sectors. This year we have collected data from 16,000 industry employees, providing substantial insights into the biggest trends in energy recruitment. 

Read on to find out what the report’s data means in terms of the power sector’s salaries, global mobility, challenges and more. 

Competition for talent will see pay expectations rise


According to this year’s Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) report, salaries for power professionals largely stayed the same in 2020 as they were in the previous year. 

Despite this, employees in the sector remain optimistic about increased remuneration, with 39% expecting a salary increase of more than 5% in 2021.

Hiring managers are also optimistic, with 35% expecting a pay increase of more than 5% this year.

The power sector has been known for its stability for a long time. But with growing pressure on companies to switch from fossil fuel to electric power and renewable energy sources in response to global climate changes, the sector is likely to see a shift in that stability.

Increased electricity consumption in developing countries will also drive change. As a result, the power industry is likely to see competition for talent increase, and in turn, increasing salary expectations.


Europe is the most popular destination for relocation 


A large proportion of power professionals (88%) said that they’d consider relocating to another region for work. Europe and North America are the most popular options respectively, followed by Australasia and the Middle East. 

Career progression was cited as the main reason staff were attracted to other locations, with proximity to family being the main reason for employees not wanting to move. 

With this willingness to relocate in mind, employers in the power sector need to be placing more importance on career progression or else risk losing talented staff to competitors in other countries and global regions. 

That said, some companies will be able to use candidates’ itchy feet to their advantage. European companies in particular should expect to welcome more expat workers, and should therefore ensure they offer the best benefits and progression plans to attract employees with the skills they need. 

A ‘new normal’ for the power industry


The COVID-19 pandemic has led many organisations all over the world to adopt new ways of working that align with social distancing guidelines. 

Professionals in the power sector already believe that the pandemic has created a ‘new normal’ in their work environment, with 44% agreeing that their company has already taken on new working methods to comply with COVID guidelines. 

Some of the biggest changes they highlighted were: 

  • Social distancing
  • Workplace flexibility
  • Reduced international travel
  • Reduced headcount 
  • Adoption of automation and digital technologies 

Despite the issues connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, 67% of power professionals felt that the sector grew in 2020. What’s more, 77% of respondents believe that the power industry will experience further growth over the next three years. 

Although this optimism is encouraging, there is a lot of uncertainty around the future, particularly around expected skills shortages. 38% reported feeling quite worried about this, with 21% saying they felt very worried. 13% of power professionals said they weren’t worried at all about the talent crisis, with 3% saying they weren’t very worried and the remaining 24% feeling unsure. 

Employers in the power sector should do what they can to alleviate concerns over a potential talent shortage by employing methods to fill essential roles such as re-training existing employees. 

Opportunities and challenges for the power industry in 2021


As part of our GETI 2021 survey research, we asked power professionals to rate the most important opportunities and biggest challenges the sector faces over the next three years. 

The top three opportunities identified were:

  • Advances in engineering techniques and technologies 
  • Economic outlook 
  • Transition to cleaner energy 

The top three challenges identified were:

  • COVID-19 or similar public health factors
  • Economic outlook 
  • Availability of capital 

Due to the impact of COVID-19, global electricity demand saw a 2% decline in 2020. In 2021, demand is expected to grow by around 3%, significantly slower than the rebound in demand in 2010 (which was 7%). 

The only major economy set to see higher power demand in 2020 was China, but growth of 2% is far below its recent average of 6.5%. Should this trend continue and demand for power show sluggish growth in the long term, there may eventually be knock-on effects for power sector hiring, headcounts and salaries.

Get more insights in the 2021 GETI report

Want to find out more about the biggest 2021 trends in the power sector and wider energy industry? Download the GETI report for all the latest insights.

Download the 2021 GETI report

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This post was written by: Joe Crockett, Recruitment Manager - Europe and Africa