Harnessing the Power of Human Capital in the Renewable Energy Sector

As the renewable energy sector experiences major transitions, it is vital that the industry invests in strategic and skilled human capital to continue on the path to meeting its future energy goals.  With the world increasingly moving towards renewable sources of energy, and wind and solar power seeing double-digit growth, a career in this sector appears promising for professionals from varied backgrounds.

The power of human capital in making energy accessible to all is critical to current and future capacity building and income generation. The right people are key to efficiently managing and delivering energy in a safe and sustainable environment. To action this, a strong policy framework is needed to attract talented and skilled people to join the renewable energy sector, even if they are from different educational and professional backgrounds.

Improved energy technologies have increased the demand for human resources who are competent in the installation, operation, maintenance and servicing of power plants. However, the manpower should be equipped with specific knowledge of crucial industry-related technical areas such as solar rooftops and wind turbines.

To build a world-class renewable energy workforce, the right talents should be hired by organisations across the spectrum. This will happen only if energy companies take proactive steps to partner with governments, countries and educational institutions to create educational programmes and courses that are uniquely tailored to meet their future business goals. For instance, courses in wind resource assessment and solar designing will create a robust environment of knowledge sharing that will further fortify the renewable energy sector.

Engineering colleges and vocational institutes will need to focus on training those who aspire to gain employment in this sector. Towards this end, specialised curriculum and courses should be designed that will draw on the multi-disciplinary strengths of candidates.  

Further, with the rise in green tech companies, there is immense scope for fresh college graduates to get trained in emerging areas related to renewable energy. This could be best achieved if energy firms tie-up with educational institutions. Industry experts and academia could also collaborate to offer workshops, hands-on training sessions and short modules on various topics covering clean energy. Job fairs and mentoring should be built into these programmes that will go a long way in developing and retaining talent.  

Since the core essence of any energy project is to lay a strong foundation that will enable the supply chain to achieve long-term scalability, this calls for the complete participation from key stakeholders such as the policy makers, educational institutions, consumers and, most importantly, the employees, who will eventually drive the transformation for global energy access.

While energy firms are open to recruiting individuals from diverse knowledge areas such as IT, finance, legal, academia and HR, among others, they have the challenge to meet the growing staffing requirements across the value chain. To address this issue, best practices have to be compiled to address any skill mismatches between job seekers and prospective employers. This strategic outlook will help the renewable energy industry to be better prepared to deliver projects across regions. Sensing the need to fill this void, universities such as Stanford, Duke and Yale are already spearheading the initiative to train a new generation of workforce in different aspects of alternative energy.

Additionally, energy firms also face the problem of talent management as there is a dearth of good candidates to replace those who are retiring from the workforce in the next decade. In the Indian context, a plethora of employment and training opportunities exist in the solar and wind sectors. This has led to an increase in the demand for specialised roles such as site engineers, project managers and supply chain professionals, as well as unskilled or low-skilled human capital that include installers, administrative personnel and construction labour, among others.

With a growing number of skilled employees needed in the clean energy field, campaigns such as Skill India and Make in India will help employers in this industry to attract and engage suitable talent. Building on these government programmes, India’s energy sector aims to enhance income generation for its workforce, develop innovative programmes to promote alternative sources of energy and facilitate knowledge sharing through quality R&D collaborations with other countries. This will enable in setting up international best practices for all human capital training programmes.

Similar to how India became a global software and product development hub, it also has the potential to become a hub for major solar and wind energy projects. This could become a reality if policy makers facilitate strategic long-term measures that will strengthen India’s role in successfully meeting the disruptions in this sector in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

While skill development is important, it is also vital to develop and nurture a strong corporate culture that’s focused on a comprehensive approach to clean energy initiatives. For this to happen, it is imperative that the human capital, right from the management to the field workers, are accountable and participative in working towards the energy goals of their organisation.

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