The future of energy is innovation. This is a time of exciting new technologies and transformative opportunity. Yet in the face of these innovative technologies, are we confident in the emerging talent and skills needed to make the future a success?
According to the Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) 2017 report, 83% of hiring managers in the global power industry believe we are in the grip of a talent shortage. So, what’s the reality of the landscape today, how do we build talent for the future, and what key roles will form the foundations of tomorrow’s industry?
The talent to embed and operate ‘smart’ technologies are needed to complement the crucial ‘traditional’ skills of the industry. New roles such as machine trainers teach Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems how they should perform, for example “empathy trainers” teach AI systems to mimic compassion. This is useful in creations such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, which allow machines to address people’s questions with depth and sympathy.
In the energy industry, AI technology can help digest massive amounts of information to bring greater efficiency and stability to utility companies. The use of AI systems can also help prevent equipment failures – ‘autonomous grids’ are the next big thing when grids are able to respond to major events on their own.
Protecting the security and integrity of data is vital for businesses and organisations. Skilled cybersecurity professionals will be in high demand as smart city growth continues. These professionals monitor computer networks, provide consulting services, and develop security technologies to protect sensitive information and proprietary data from cyber criminals. Their role ranges across a variety of industries, from tech giants, insurance companies, and banks to government departments.
Wind power and solar energy are among the fastest growing green industries. There will be an increased demand for technicians who can install wind and solar power systems. The green industry also requires jobs to manufacture, install and maintain its technology – for example solar panels and wind turbines.
The RE workforce worldwide reached almost 10 million in 2016, and by 2030, we will see a predicted 24 million people working in the renewable energy sector. That growth presents a significant opportunity for future talent in the industry.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is in the driving seat steering the future of a connected revolution. As IoT progresses, consumer devices such as connected rooftop solar panels and smart thermostats will become more connected, enabling users to read information conveniently. Engineers trained to interact with and understand these systems will form the basis of a more efficient and data-driven energy network.
Similar ‘smart’ technologies have already taken over the consumer gadget space, with innovations such as smart glasses and augmented reality. Interestingly, smart glasses and similar augmented reality (AR) technologies are predicted to assist engineers in their jobs. Engineers can visualise designs and be guided by instructions from smart glasses as they carry out their work. This augmented reality provides a new frontier of informed talent working with advanced tools to enable a more resilient energy landscape.
The role of sustainability is playing an increasingly important part in the power industry. This term covers a wide range of functions, from energy conservation and sustainability to supply chain analysis.
Sustainability professionals are seen as one of the fastest growing jobs in the energy sector. Essential roles like Sustainability Consultant and Sustainability Analyst will form the foundation of this rapidly growing sector. These positions provide the framework for an industry that recognises not only the need for more sustainable practice, but the importance of being able to demonstrate and champion that practice.
Data Scientists enable systems that collect and deliver data insight while providing the opportunity to manipulate and present that data in ways that deliver actionable information. Data Analysts would work alongside Data Scientists to help analyse and offer insight from this data. These skilful digital professionals will form a core part of an efficient modern power company.
Data analytics is a crucial element for energy sector transformation, yet 44% of energy executives still see sourcing of appropriate skills and talents as a hurdle to overcome. In this sense, the talent gap that exists presents a window of opportunity for those willing to embrace new knowledge.
The energy industry is undergoing an exciting revolution. Embracing the opportunities of that revolution will mean encouraging talent and supporting skills to help the industry thrive. Asia will be at the heart of this new wave of emerging technologies and talent, with over 45% of Hiring Managers declaring the region a hot spot for the modern energy industry.
An ageing workforce frames the backdrop to a growing need for fresh talent. But the true excitement could well be in the emergence of new technologies and the importance of talent to power them.