It is broadly recognised that talent within the energy network sector is in short supply, and there is a material concern about the ageing population of the existing workforce. When you combine this with the changes in the Smart Energy industry demanding individuals to have a broader range of engineering, commercial, innovation and IT skills, it is easy to understand why recruitment in the sector is becoming increasingly difficult.
The demands from the Smart Grid revolution have only emphasised this, with very specific needs for specialised experience, in what is still a relatively immature market, with a small but evolving talent pool. So how does the industry ensure we can meet current demand whilst also safeguarding ourselves against a skills gap in the future? Our answer is two-fold; continuing to invest in our existing talent to further develop their specialist skills, and ensuring we focus on attracting and developing the next generation of Smart Grid specialists.
Whilst both are equally important, we briefly focus on the latter.
The millennial generation represent an exciting new pool of talent for the energy industry, and the Smart Grid sector in particular. They have grown up in a society that is conscious of environmental issues and the importance of managing energy resources, and are really passionate about making a positive impact. If organisations can harness this drive, motivation, and commitment to learning then we can start to mitigate against a longer-term skills shortage by allowing individuals to apply their academic knowledge in a commercial environment.
Engineering graduates that have the technical understanding to operate in a Smart Grid environment are in high demand, and organisations need to work hard to attract them. At Baringa, we have created a compelling proposition, recognising the need to combine training and a clear career path, in a collaborative and people-focused environment. This, alongside the opportunity to work closely with more experienced Smart Grid consultants, has resulted in us successfully attracting some of these bright and ambitious candidates:
Ian McDonnell, an Analyst in our Smart Grid practice says,
“I recently completed a PhD in Engineering where the focus of my research was on the design and control of Smart Microgrids. I wanted to continue using my knowledge while making a more immediate impact. Since joining Baringa, I have been working on designing the commercial arrangements of an active network management scheme for distribution networks - a vital step in the realisation of a Smart Grid. This has drawn upon my technical knowledge of power system operation, while opening my eyes to the commercial side of the issue”
Eralia Tiniou, one of our Consultants, talks about why she pursued a career in Smart Grids:
“I have been very interested in Smart Grids since my studies. A good commercial and regulatory understanding is essential to develop solutions that can provide substantial benefits to both network operators and the wider society. That type of experience was something that Baringa could offer me”.
Recruitment functions across the Smart Grid industry all face the same challenge in the short to medium term. Over the last ten years in the UK, we have witnessed and been integral to the development of what is now a substantial smart metering resource pool. For recruiters, the job was made slightly easier by the GB mandate for smart metering as it introduced certainty and a specific timescale. Smart Grids are different. Other than innovation funding and a general consensus that managing our energy networks more intelligently is a necessity, the pace of demand for Smart Grid developments (and, therefore, resources) is less certain.
Regardless of pace however, recruitment success will be predicated on organisations that can provide the millennials an authentic, attractive and relevant employment proposition that will gain a competitive advantage in the current world of limited Smart Grid talent.
We're keen to hear your views on this issue - or issues relating to it.Contact us if you have a view on this that you would like to share.