What will 2020 hold for recruitment in the renewables sector?

February 7, 2020

With global supplies of renewable electricity set to expand by 50% over the next five years, growing firms within the sector will need to develop intelligent workforce planning strategies to meet project demand.

Hiring managers will need to consider the best ways to retain existing employees and attract new talent to ensure they have the talent pipeline they need to complete projects on time and within budget.

But what, exactly, are the top renewables candidates looking for in their job and career?

And what trends around talent availability and mobility should hiring managers be aware of?

Every year, we work with Energy Jobline to produce the GETI report, which is based on survey responses from professionals within the energy sector. This year is our biggest yet, with data collected from more than 20,000 industry employees, and provides substantial insights into the biggest trends in energy recruitment .

Read on to find out what the report’s data means in terms of the renewables sector’s culture, workforce, training and development practices and more.

Get more insights into training and development trends in the full report

Download the 2020 GETI report


Culture plays an important role in all industries; a strong and positive work culture is one of the biggest components to attracting and maintaining talent.

The majority of renewables professionals chose having a team that works well together as the most important cultural factor in the workplace, followed by training, learning and development opportunities.

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Fig 1. Most important cultural factors in the renewables sector

73% of respondents were either ‘quite satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ that their team works well together, which is a positive indication that the sector has a culture that is aligned with the values of its workforce.

In terms of training and development opportunities, 62% said they were satisfied with the opportunities available. Though this is a good start, there is still room for improvement if companies plan to future proof their operations. 42% of those who did receive training felt that it was largely to benefit their current role, rather than to develop their career within the industry.

Training opportunities are an important way for green energy firms to attract and retain in demand talent.

By improving their programme offering so that it has more long-term focus, organisations can help to enrich the knowledge base of their workforce and keep employees motivated and engaged. It can also help staff to develop their skills, making them transferrable to other parts of the company and into leadership roles.

It is also a good idea to gather feedback on how training and development plans are received by existing employees, to improve programmes for the future.

On the whole, the renewables sector has a highly engaged workforce, with only 1% of respondents stating that they feel disengaged with their professional lives. The renewables sector ranked higher than oil and gas, petrochemicals, power and nuclear in terms of engagement, with 55% saying they were very engaged at work.

Engagement was especially high among workers under the age of 25, with 91% stating that they feel engaged in their professional lives. This bucks the trend within the wider energy industry of younger professionals being less engaged at work. Though training and development opportunities are the factors that most affect engagement within the sector, ethical motivations associated with greener jobs within the energy space could also lead to higher rates of engagement.

Although engagement is high in the renewables sector, 53% of respondents still feel undervalued by their organisations.

In order to maintain a talented and engaged workforce, companies in the sector should increase their efforts to make staff feel valued by introducing measures such as:

  • Communicating training and development schemes to help staff move forward with their careers
  • Offering benefits such as health care and generous holiday allowance
  • Having clear progression plans in place for full-time employees

Renewables Sector Data Graphics-03

Salary and benefits

Alongside career progression, salary increase was one of the top factors encouraging renewables workers to stay with an organisation.

With just under half of respondents seeing a pay increase in the last year and 43% expecting a rise of more than 5% in 2020, this spells good news for workers, despite a lower number of pay increases compared to last year.

In order to retain staff and close the industry-wide skills gap by attracting new employees, organisations within the renewables sector will need to ensure salaries match the expectations of both current and prospective employees.

Global mobility

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

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Fig 2. Would you consider relocating to another region for your job?


86% of employees said they would consider moving to another region, and 30% of those would prefer to relocate to Europe, making it the most popular destination for renewables staff. This was followed by North America (19%) and the Middle East (15%), leaving Asia outside of the top three.

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Fig 3. Where would be your preferred location?


Career progression was cited as the main reason for attracting staff 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 renewables sector need to be placing more importance on career progression or else risk losing talented staff to competitors in other countries.

That said, some companies will be able to use candidates’ itchy feet to their advantage by attracting international workers.

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.

The renewables market in Asia has taken off recently, but isn’t attracting as many potential relocators as other continents. Organisations need to communicate the volume of exciting projects being developed in the region so that staff who are willing to relocate can see how working in Asia could boost their career.

Career mobility

Career progression is clearly an influential cultural factor in the renewables sector. In fact, it is the biggest factor influencing employees’ likelihood to stay with an organisation, closely followed by salary. These are the same factors influencing staff to switch to other firms, too.

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 46% 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 more than half expecting to switch from full-time staff to contractor.

Staff also see the ratio of contract workers within their workforce increasing over the next three years, with 59% expecting the ratio to increase.

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.

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Fig 4. Percentage of workforce hired on a contract basis in the renewables sector
 Renewables Sector Data Graphics-04
Fig 5. How do you see the contractor ratio changing in the next three years in the renewables sector


Sector mobility

It’s not just global and career mobility being considered by renewables professionals. More and more employees are considering the possibility of changing to a new sector altogether.

In fact, 79% of renewables staff would consider moving to another sector in the next three years, with power and oil and gas sectors the most attractive alternative sectors. Again, the main reason behind this is career progression.

However, it should be noted that the renewables sector is the biggest source of talent competition across the energy industry. Companies in this sector should be aware of this and ensure they are offering the best possible progression opportunities, not just to retain their current workforce, but also to attract new talent from other sectors as well.


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

However, as workforces continue to develop, it’s essential that renewable energy 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 recruitment trends of the energy industry for 2020 - download the GETI report today.

Download the 2020 GETI report


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This post was written by: Joe Crockett, Recruitment Manager for Europe & Africa. Joe specialises in helping clients find technical experts across the Energy & Process sectors.