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How training in the UK’s renewables sector is paying off

There’s no denying that the world needs progress in the renewables sector, and so it’s not surprising that it is a rapidly growing industry. In 2017 alone, the renewable energy sector’s power generation rose from 29.4 per cent to 24.5 per cent compared to 2016. It’s clear that we are becoming increasingly reliant on renewable energy.

In this article, we’ll show you what routes are available if you want to join the increasingly prominent renewable energy sector, highlighting training courses that are proving successful already.

Growth as a whole

The World Economic Forum notes that global yearly net capacity for renewables is estimated to be around 160 GW — this is much higher than for gas (50 GW) and coal (20 GW). If this is accurate, then the renewables sector is set to continue to enjoy its rising demand and growth. This in turn means the sector will need more skilled workers.

Half a million renewable energy sector jobs came from the International Renewable Energy Agency last year, bringing the world total to around 9.4 million employees. The UK currently has around 126,000 employees in the sector, with onshore wind power construction hitting record growth.

“Wind and marine energy currently supports around 30,000 direct and indirect jobs and there is the potential to generate a further 70,000 over the next decade,” says RenewableUK’s policy manager for employment, skills and training, Sophie Bennett.

She also noted that: “Working in renewables offers the chance to be part of an exciting, diverse, growing industry as well as playing a part in the fight against climate change. You could work on land, at sea, in an office or in a laboratory.”

The sector is certainly shaping up to be an attractive career option. So, let’s look at the training you’ll need to undertake.

Routes to success

There are two main paths to a career in the renewable energy sector. The first path would be to get a degree from university. Alternatively, you could go down the route of apprenticeships and other qualifications.

A quick look online will show you just how many establishments are offering renewable energy courses. There are a number of different specialities within this topic, including:

  • Support services — public relation advisors, financial experts, and business developers.
  • Construction — civil engineers and site managers.
  • Research and development — analysts, ecologists, tech experts, scientists, and engineers.
  • Maintenance — technicians and inspectors.
  • Design —tech designers and grid connection designers.

You’ll need to have qualifications in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to get any of these positions. So, a STEM-based degree or apprenticeship is your best bet. Neither is better than the other, so pick whichever route appeals to you more — whether you’re more academic, or more hands-on in your learning style.

Entry roles

There are also courses designed to bridge the gap between different training courses in order to help with entry into the sector as a career move. The Global Wind Organisation created a new Required for Performing Basic Technical Training (BTT) Gap Training and Merit Assessment in 2018 for just this reason. This course is of particular benefit to smaller traders or independent workers.

CEO of Global Wind Organisation, Jakob Lau Holst, said “The result will be a global pool of technicians whose basic safety and technical training competences can be validated in the GWO database WINDA and transferred from one employer to the next, helping employers avoid unnecessary spending on retraining, and providing certainty across the supply chain.”

This course is offered by a number of companies, such as Bolt Torque supplier HTL Group, and is designed to lower the completion time of training required.

Making your way in renewables

The renewables sector has been shown to have the lowest proportion of workers qualified through an apprenticeship, according the Engineer’s Salary Survey, with just 28.8 per cent of workers entering the sector via this method. On the other hand, the sector had the highest number of employers who qualified with a bachelors or honours degree, with 58.6 per cent of employees in the sector gaining entry through this route. Plus, 54.5 per cent of participants of the survey were registered professionally in the energy, nuclear, and renewables sector. The sector certainly has a high bar set for educational levels.

The type of job you want to gain can alter the qualification you should seek. The renewables sector is home to a broad range of jobs, from engineers to analysts, so anyone could find their perfect career here with the right attitude and qualifications.