I recently read comments on a forum which were discussing careers advice for a young person looking for a job in Renewable Energy. Some were still sceptical about the opportunities available in this alternative energy job market, but others fully appreciate that while 20 years ago, Renewable Energy was still a bit of a pipe dream, there is no doubt today that this is already a viable and necessary alternative for home grown energy production, and there is already an existing and fast growing demand for entry and experienced level workers, particularly in the Offshore Wind sector.
Where Do I Start?
There are many levels of entry into Renewable Energy careers, depending on your starting point, from apprenticeships to Graduate level, and in between there are opportunities for skilled and experienced workers to transfer their skills from other industries across into this emerging market. Ex-military personnel too have also been particularly identified as suitable candidates for jobs in Offshore Wind at skilled technician level, and with a bit of help from my article on How to Write an Ex-Services CV, here is an industry with employers specifically looking for those with a military background.
As a school leaver with some GCSEs you could enter on an apprenticeship scheme to gain NVQs, and develop a skilled trade while you work as a craft or technician apprentice, in 3 years time you will have a trade, a qualification and a career in a sector with growing demand regardless of the state of the economy. You could in a very short space of time have a career offering challenge, travel and progression.
At Graduate or Post Graduate level, degrees in Science, Engineering, Maths and Technology are ideally suited to this industry, with Universities working increasingly closely with the Renewables industry and offering modules specifically designed for Renewable Energy careers.
Choose Your Door
The career disciplines in Offshore Wind Farms fall broadly into 4 categories:
- Development and Consenting
- Design and Manufacture
- Construction and Installation
- Operations and Maintenance
For those who are already established in their career and wanting to change to this sector, it is not always necessary to have prior experience in Wind, Wave, Tidal, or Solar jobs. Many skills are transferrable, for instance a diver, ROV pilot or skipper having worked on an offshore supply or installation vessel in the Oil & Gas industry may be just as suited to working on offshore wind farm installations. A construction or civil engineer with relevant deep water experience of installation or design of foundations for North Sea Oil Rigs would have plenty to offer the construction stage of offshore wind farm jackets and piles in hazardous and harsh subsea conditions. Similarly Geotechnical Engineers, marine biologists, seismologists and environmental engineers would all have skills that are directly transferrable to the development and consenting stage. Electrical and Mechanical engineers and technicians may have prior relevant experience for design, operation and maintenance of the Nacelles and Turbines and the grid connections, and Planners and Project Engineers would be required at all stages of the life cycle of a wind farm.
Supply Chain Job Opportunities
The supply chain from other sectors is now waking up to the opportunities on offer here. I recently had a conversation with an established steel tube manufacturer who had completely moved away from Oil & Gas, and set up exclusively to serve the Wind Farm supply chain, where they foresee a 25 – 30 year market in their region alone. They are confident that their existing workforce will be just as relevant serving the Renewable sector, with many of the processes and skills required being identical. A recent report from Ernst and Young concluded that the UK is the most attractive place to invest in Renewable Energy. It quoted £861million alone already earmarked for offshore supply, and installation vessels, and with 50% more demand for electricity predicted by 2050, it looks like a career in Offshore Wind or the industry supply chain may well be a wise career choice.
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