Demand for energy workers surge, in spite of warnings that Australia could fall behind on clean energy industries

February 16, 2023

Ryan Carroll; Airswift Regional Director - Australia and New Zealand

Ryan Carroll spoke to ABC News about the surging demand for energy workers, amid the Clean Energy Council's calls for the Australian government to boost the country's support for renewable energy.

Brisbane, Australia — February 15th 2023: In the wake of the passing of landmark climate laws and the over $520 million investment in clean energy industries by the US government last year, the Clean Energy Council warns that America's funding plans risk overshadowing Australia's renewable energy ambitions.

Ryan Carroll, our Regional Director for Australia and New Zealand, spoke to Daniel Mercer of ABC News about the growing demand for both traditional and renewable energy, and what that means for the energy talent landscape.


Full Transcript from ABC News

Daniel Mercer: Ryan Carroll has worked in the labor hire industry for long enough to know a hot market when he sees one. The 41-year-old is the regional director for recruitment firm Airwift, and he says demand for energy workers is through the roof.

Ryan Carroll: The market is really strong. I mean, I think the first thing that we really need to understand is that there is a bit of an imbalance between the size of the opportunity versus the availability of talent.

Daniel Mercer: At the heart of the scramble is the global race to decarbonize as economies look to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. As well as the materials, it's creating intense competition for the required skills.

Ryan Carroll: It's certainly spiked. I mean, I guess you could call it somewhat of a perfect storm in the sense that we've got both traditional energy and now renewable energy, both peaking in demand.

Daniel Mercer: The race gained added impetus last year when the US passed landmark climate laws. Included in the Inflation Reduction Act is more than $520 billion of funding to turbocharge clean energy investment in America.

Kane Thornton: Ultimately, what it does is creates enormous incentives for things like green hydrogen and renewable energy to be built in the US. And what that does is it acts therefore as a magnet towards the US, say, for things like clean energy workers, for investment, for technology.

Daniel Mercer: Kane Thornton is the head of the Clean Energy Council, which represents green energy developers in Australia. He says America's big spending plans risk overshadowing Australia's own renewable energy ambitions.

Kane Thornton: We can't be complacent. The reality is other governments right around the world are throwing enormous incentives at renewable energy. This is a global market and Australia needs to take steps or we will miss out. We'll miss out on the opportunity to become a global, clean energy superpower, and we'll miss out on the critical role to deploy more renewables to drive down power prices.

Daniel Mercer: Ahead of the federal budget in May, the Council is calling on the Government to boost Australia's support for renewable energy to ensure the country doesn't fall behind. It wants an expansion of the renewable energy target. Greater efforts to electrify homes, businesses, and transport and tax breaks for clean industries such as green hydrogen production. Federal climate change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen was contacted for comment but did not respond by AM's deadline. For recruitment manager, Ryan Carroll, there's likely to be little relief in demand for workers.

Ryan Carroll: Our forecast tells us that the heat is here to stay. You know, if we look at the engineering sectors as a whole, they're all doing particularly well. So there is no clear and obvious place for us to go and take talent from at the moment, which makes things challenging. But also very exciting. And as I said at the beginning, it's the better problem to have.

Listen to the full show

This post was written by: Betty Givvons-Collinge