What renewable energy employment trends will we see in 2021?

January 15, 2021

With continued acceleration in clean energy generation expected in 2021, we anticipate an increase in renewable energy jobs

Hiring managers will need to consider both how to retain and attract talent to meet project demand. 

But what are the top renewables candidates looking for? And what trends around talent availability and mobility should hiring managers be aware of?

Every year, we work with Energy Jobline to produce the Global Energy Talent Index (GETI), Using survey data from 16,000 energy professionals, the report provides insights into global employment trends in the energy sector. 

Here are the key findings on the renewable sector and its culture, workforce, training and resilience to the dynamic changes of 2020.

Renewable energy salaries and contract rates are expected to increase in 2021 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a degree of uncertainty surrounding finance and the economy. This was reflected in the survey results, although renewables respondents were slightly more optimistic.

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The majority of renewable energy employees saw their pay remain the same over the last year. However, 35% of employees and 47% of hiring managers had received a raise.

The 2021 GETI report also suggests optimism for the future regarding salaries, with 43% of professionals and 35% of hiring managers expecting them to increase by more than 5% within the next year. 

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Potential skills gaps?

However, a large number of respondents (57%) are worried about an impending talent crisis in the sector in which companies will be unable to fill essential roles.

With increasing funding and projects coming online, there is a risk of delays if talent isn't available. This could be compounded if other energy sectors like oil & gas recover quickly and can provide higher pay incentives.

Addressing this risk will require early and ongoing discussion of pay structures and workforce planning. 

Global mobility 

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With projects taking place all over the world, the renewable energy sector already lends itself to global mobility.

85% of employees said they would consider relocating to another region for their job. 34% of those would prefer to move to Europe. This was followed by North America (19%) and Asia (14%), leaving Australasia outside of the top three. 

Could a lack of international opportunities stifle career progression?

Notably, only 46% of employers provide cross-regional job transfers. This could leave current employees feeling restricted in their ability to progress at their existing employer.

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

With this willingness to relocate in mind, employers in the renewables sector need to highlight career progression opportunities or 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 highlight benefits and progression opportunities in their recruitment marketing.

Career and sector mobility 

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Career progression opportunities are highly valued by workers in the renewables sector, to the extent that many are willing to move sectors to secure those opportunities. 

With this in mind, it’s crucial for renewables companies to make sure that their staff have strong progression plans in place to reduce risk of losing them to other organisations.

Whilst 23% of renewables staff said they would stay in their organisation for the next three years, 73% saw themselves changing employment status within that time, with just under half expecting to switch from full-time staff to contractor. 

Considering the above, renewables companies need to continue hiring contractors as part of their workforce and perhaps increase the amount of contracted positions they offer, as more professionals are likely to switch to this type of work. 

A ‘new normal’ for the renewables sector 

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The global pandemic has caused many businesses across the world to adapt to new ways of working in order to adhere to social distancing and COVID-compliant guidelines. 

82% of workers in the renewables industry already feel as though the events of 2020 will result in a ‘new normal’ for the sector. Just 12% said they expect things to go back to the way they were before the pandemic. 

In terms of what a new normal might look like for the renewables sector, some of the biggest changes cited by respondents were:

  • Social distancing 
  • Workspace flexibility 
  • Reduced headcount 
  • Reduced international travel 
  • Reduced opportunities for expatriates due to localisation programmes 

What is encouraging to see is that the majority (77%) of renewable energy professionals would still pursue a career in the sector if they were entering the industry today. 

What’s more, workers are still optimistic about the sector’s growth, with 85% of survey respondents believing that it will grow over the next three years.

Only 7% of the respondents expected the sector to experience contraction, and 8% said they expect no change at all. 

Whilst this optimism is encouraging, there is also some anxiety regarding an impending talent crisis in the sector. 36% are quite worried about this and 21% are very worried, compared to 25% who are unsure and 14% who are not worried at all.

Employers in the renewables industry need to do what they can to alleviate concerns over a potential talent shortage by transferring skills from related sectors, re-training existing employees or reviewing pay structures.


By all accounts, the renewables sector is growing and introducing new paths for professionals at all levels. 

However, as workforces continue to develop and the industry navigates the global pandemic, it’s essential that renewables companies start to pay more attention to progression opportunities, training programmes and benefits packages in order to build and maintain a highly engaged workforce.

Get more insights into the biggest employment trends in the energy industry for 2021 - download the GETI report today. 

Download the 2021 GETI report


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This post was written by: Jordan Mason, Senior Recruitment Consultant – Offshore Wind