EY UK Energy blog

Powering the UK: Supporting talent

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Posted: Friday, 6 November 2015 at 1.00am

The energy sector is one of the largest employers in the UK. Last year, energy firms directly employed around 133,000 people across the country and supported another 486,000 jobs in its supply chain and the wider UK economy, according to EY’s Powering the UK 2015 report. All told, this means that 1 in every 48 jobs was related to the energy sector. Unlike many other industries, these jobs are widely dispersed and long-lasting.

Enabling the development of a highly skilled workforce is at the core of delivering the broad range of the sector’s activities. We have seen over recent years a progressive shift in the types of skills that the sector requires. For example, the continuing move towards low-carbon generation, the momentum gathering in the smart meter roll out, and the emergence of greater innovation in retail and energy services means that the sector increasingly needs a broader range of technical, engineering, customer and IT skills than has historically been the case.

Managing this evolution in the skills required is one of the key challenges that the sector will face over the coming years. The challenge becomes even more important given that it is taking place against the backdrop of a growing number of skilled retirees from the industry and the intense competition from other sectors for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) capabilities.

The good news is that right across the sector signs that energy firms are rising to the challenge of attracting, recruiting and training a more diverse future generation of talent are evident. Many firms are casting a wide net to make sure that a career in energy becomes more accessible and appealing. In EYs Powering the UK 2015 report, we discuss a range of innovative examples – such as National Grid’s EmployAbility scheme and the work that British Gas is doing to broaden the diversity of its HomeCare operations – that are already making a real difference.

The sector is also making great strides to improve the retention of existing talent through creating greater opportunity for advancement and recognition. For example, Energy UK’s Young Energy Professionals (YEP) network provides an interactive forum for the next generation of energy professionals to network and discuss topical issues that are challenging the industry. The organisation also holds an annual awards ceremony in order to recognise the outstanding contributions that have been made by the younger generation of leaders within the industry.

Through these types of recruitment and retention initiatives, the sector is looking to build a more inclusive and representative workforce that draws on the best talent from across society. This should help ensure that the sector is able to draw on new perspectives in developing innovative solutions to the challenges ahead, as well as helping ensure that energy firms are better aligned with the attitudes and needs of their customer base.

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