The renewable energy sector is in the midst of a ‘skills gap’ crisis, which is slowing the pace of the renewable energy transition.
PwC found that in the UK alone there was a green skills gap of ~200,000 workers. A spokesperson from SolarPower Europe said that skills shortages represent one of the most “severe bottlenecks” that could threaten solar growth. These shortages naturally affect several other areas of renewable energy.
Successful transition towards renewable energy depends on this skills gap being addressed; Edtech solutions can play a pivotal role in attracting and training talent.
These solutions include:
1. Dedicated training & hiring platforms for energy transition-related skills.
Dedicated training platforms for energy transition provide learners with the required skills to thrive in the renewable energy industry. As well as providing learners with more flexible, lower cost learning opportunities versus traditional routes, many often seek to support learners with finding a role once the program is complete. La Solive, a French training provider boasts a 91% hiring rate upon completion of its training programs. Many of its courses are company-funded and all courses are state certified. Smalt takes an alternative approach, instead providing learners with apprenticeship opportunities, where they train workers in bootcamps, and then using the skills of these apprentices, they are able provide installation services to B2B customers. As reported by The Times, “The very idea of that [net-zero] transition is so new that there has not yet been time to train up the workforce that will undertake it.” New, efficient and affordable training opportunities are vital for prospective employees and the industry at large.
2. Job marketplaces to match talent with opportunities.
Talent marketplaces have emerged to provide better matching of talent and roles in the energy transition space. Examples include Greenworkx, which supports users in discovering jobs and developing required skills, and Kolverr, which helps installers and technicians find suitable roles. Talent marketplaces specialising in green jobs help applicants understand skill development pathways, and help employers build capacity efficiently. At a time when workers are increasingly seeking more impactful careers, marketplaces build awareness of potential opportunities within the renewable energy market.
3. VR enabled solutions to reduce training costs and improve accessibility.
Virtual reality (VR) provides an alternative delivery opportunity for training, which can reduce costs for complex processes, such as offshore wind turbine training. Kanda has built digital simulations for complex industries, including wind energy, enabling remote learning. Similarly VRAI, who have used grants from The Offshore Wind Growth Partnership to develop their VR solution for offshore wind industry training, have found that their training methodologies are up to 4 times faster than traditional methods. VR provides learners with a more accurate experience of offshore conditions than they are often able to have within onshore training facilities. Furthermore, there is a lack of onshore wind training centres to meet current demand. Using VR, workers are also able to easily repeat exercises and refresh training, providing them with greater experience levels, keeping them safer and making them more effective once they enter the field. VR training cannot be used in silo for this purpose, and does not replace the need for training in the field, however when used in combination with in field training, it can make training more cost effective and efficient.
4. AR technology to improve the efficiency of operational tasks.
Augmented reality (AR) remote assistance represents a novel method to inspect and maintain renewable energy assets, including wind turbines, which require maintenance an average of 3 times per year. AR remote assistance, such as Vsight, provides field workers with instant assistance from remote experts, helping bridge the knowledge gap with remote support. Additionally, Taqtile uses AR work instructions to provide field technicians with on-the-job guidance through simple step-by-step instructions overlaid within their vision. These tools support less skilled workers in carrying out complex operations, making work more accessible, whilst helping workers reduce mistakes. AR support for operational work does not mitigate the need to train more skilled workers at a rapid pace, however it can support in addressing some elements of the mass demand for certain skills.
In order to transition to renewable energy, firms need to close the skills gap and improve the efficiency of hiring and training initiatives. Edtech solutions, across varied use cases, help both employers and employees improve the hiring and upskilling process, reducing costs and boosting efficiency. With the market set to expand in the near future, we expect to see increasing applications of Edtech to support the renewable energy transition.