Why the workforce is pivotal to the energy transition

September 26, 2023

Source: Chay_Tee/Shutterstock

The workforce is the backbone of any successful business, and this is particularly true for energy companies, which operate in a sector characterized by rapid technological advancements, intricate supply chains, and strict regulatory requirements. Talented and skilled employees bring innovation and efficiency, critical for developing new technologies, optimizing processes, and lowering costs. 

The transition to cleaner, more sustainable energy solutions will require experienced professionals. Countries representing over 70 per cent of global emissions today have committed to net zero emissions targets by mid-century, which will create millions of new clean energy jobs around the world. 

The Net Zero by 2050: An updated Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector (NZE Scenario) from the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that the energy transition will increase jobs from just over 65 million today to 90 million in 2030 in the NZE Scenario. New jobs in clean energy industries reach 40 million by 2030, outweighing job losses in the fossil fuel-related industries.

Fossil fuel supply jobs decrease by 7 million by 2030 in the NZE Scenario, with coal supply seeing the sharpest decline as mechanisation and decarbonisation efforts lead to further downsizing of the industry. Shortages of skilled labour in clean energy projects are already an issue, underlining the importance of building up the workforce needed for the rapid expansion of clean energy technologies.

Partner with our green recruitment company to find top talent for your  renewable energy projects.

Challenges in the recruitment industry

Green talent skills shortage in the recruitment industrySource: Andrii Yalanskyi//Shutterstock

The skills shortage is definitely an issue in the energy industry. It has intensified the competition for top talent in fields like traditional energy, renewable energy, energy storage, and smart grid technology. 

Demand for green jobs is increasing at a faster clip globally than the supply of talent. According to the 2023 Green Skills Report developed by LinkedIn, the share of green talent in the workforce rose by a median of 12.3 per cent across the 48 countries examined, while the share of job postings requiring at least one green skill grew nearly twice as quickly — by a median of 22.4 per cent. 

Green skills are essential for the green transition and to build a sustainable economy. These abilities position workers to get the best green jobs and also unlock opportunities for doing all jobs in a more sustainable way. The transition to a greener economy is driving green skills growth across all industries, including the most carbon-intensive. 

Globally, the green talent concentration in the oil and gas industry has steadily increased since 2016, reaching 21 per cent in 2023.

Some of the fastest-growing green skills are:

  • Climate Change
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Renewable Energy
  • Sustainable Design
  • Carbon Emissions    
  • Energy Engineering  
  • Sustainable Procurement  
  • Carbon Emissions  

However, there are several areas of opportunity for workers seeking to become part of the green transformation. The non-green skills below are critical to move toward a green future. 

STEM skills 

Since many green jobs are grounded in science and math fundamentals, STEM skills are at the top of the list.  

Digital skills  

As companies develop and deploy tech-enabled solutions to achieve their sustainability objectives, digital skills have become essential.  

Utilities, mining, and agriculture skills  

Expertise in utilities, mining, and agriculture is useful because these industries are greening rapidly. Public administration is another sought-after skill, as employers engage in more elaborate compliance and policy activities related to climate change. 

The workforce enables scalability, which is often a key determinant of success in the energy sector. As energy companies expand geographically or across different segments of the energy value chain, they need a team that can manage increasingly complex operations.  

Employees with diverse skills — from project management to data analytics — are crucial for integrating new assets, optimizing workflows, and maintaining quality and safety standards at scale.

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How can we overcome these challenges?

Two ways stand out, and the first is to focus on the importance of upskilling green energy workers to help them develop the skills that are needed by an evolving industry and prepare employees to wear multiple hats, which is particularly important in emerging industries where roles can be fluid. It can also potentially lower recruitment costs as it is more cost-effective to train existing employees than it is to recruit new staff.

A worker stands out in a wind farm with safety equipSource: ravipat/Shutterstock

The present and future workforce needs to arm itself with a combination of in-depth technical knowledge and a wide range of soft skills. There are multiple training and educational programs to prepare workers for careers in the clean energy sector and to specialize the new talent generation in dealing with environmentally friendly solutions.  

The second is to leverage on transferable skills from traditional energy industries to bridge the skills gap. Oil and Gas professionals, for instance, are a vital resource for the renewables industry due to expertise in related areas, such as project management, safety, and engineering.


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Airswift can help you 

Companies that manage to attract, develop, and retain the best minds will secure a significant competitive advantage. That’s the importance of having a workforce services partner with a global footprint. 

With over 9,000 contractors and 1,000 employees in 60 offices worldwide, our talent pool and geographical reach are unmatched in the industry.

Partner with our green recruitment company to find top talent for your  renewable energy projects.


This post was written by: Nana Terra, Content Marketing Coordinator