Reskilling the energy workforce for a sustainable future
Training has always been a top priority for the energy sector as it confronts technological and regulatory change. But the industry is now facing a reskilling challenge like no other with the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy happening during a global skills shortage.
Renewables are changing the energy market
The growth of clean renewable energy sources and the decarbonization of the traditional energy industry will have a profound effect on the skills base required in the sector. The political and economic demand for green energy is creating massive new employment opportunities. The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that by 2030 adopting clean energy will generate 14 million jobs. It further estimates that an additional 16 million jobs will be required in other areas of the green economy such as retrofitting existing infrastructure, constructing new energy efficient buildings, and manufacturing electric vehicles.
Meanwhile, the traditional fossil fuel industries, like gas, oil, and coal, will see a net loss of 5 million jobs. Yet currently there’s no immediate way to transition these employees into the renewable sector because they lack the skills.
The training objectives for the energy sector are expanding
Servicing the skills demand for clean energy involves a commitment from the industry to extensive training and certification programs. New skills, such as constructing wind turbines and installing solar panels, will need to be learned. Upskilling employees from traditional industries won’t in itself end the skills shortage.
So, the energy sector needs to acquire millions of people who are new to the industry. That involves changing the profile of the workforce to be more inclusive and diverse. Successful onboarding and clear opportunities for career progression need to be in place to ensure that once hired and trained, these new employees stay and perform.
Even old industries require new skills
Yet at the same time as the demand for new skills in the renewable sector is growing, the existing fossil fuels businesses are experiencing a surge in the need to upskill their employees. The global focus may be on decarbonizing and decommissioning these industries, but they are still affected by technological developments. Automation, robotics, the Internet of Things, data analytics, and AI all play an increasing role in traditional energy companies and require the acquisition of new skills to run them.
The diversity of skills requires an agile solution
While the need and demand for reskilling and upskilling are clear, implementing training solutions in the energy sector is not straightforward. Energy businesses are typically spread across multiple sites and jurisdictions. Employees stationed on oil rigs and gas pipelines are the original remote workers. The work carried out ranges from the manual to the computer based. New regulations, now increased with climate change targets, mean constant reviews of production methods and business processes to ensure compliance. Health and safety requires regular training and retraining initiatives.
Faced with such diverse requirements any energy industry training program needs to be comprehensive, responsive, flexible, and targeted.
Digital learning delivers training industry-wide
Digital or elearning has the potential to overcome the logistical obstacles to training in the energy sector. A learning platform can store a vast amount of digital learning content in a central location. Yet that content can be accessed from anywhere and on mobile devices offering a truly global solution.
Getting training from one source helps ensure standardization and quality learning content across the business no matter where it’s conducted. It means that training need not be reliant on the availability of or access to trainers or subject matter experts. New, specialized, industry standard content can be added off the shelf avoiding the need to develop programs in-house where expertise may be limited. This content can also be used to train the trainer.
Multiple formats meet differing demands
Digital learning comes in a variety of formats. Video can be used – synchronously or asynchronously – to demonstrate hands-on tasks. Animations and simulations help learners understand complex technological operations and processes. Digital SOPs and flowcharts with text and images can be downloaded to portable devices so that they’re accessible where most needed. Online assessments check comprehension and application of knowledge and are used for accreditation and to assist retention. Learning platforms accommodate user-generated content, whether it’s a post to a collaborative workspace or a short video taken on a mobile phone and uploaded, meaning expert knowledge can be instantly captured and widely shared.
Digital learning enables targeted training
In a highly specialized industry training needs to be relevant to specific tasks and roles. Digital learning can be personalized so that individual learners only receive training that’s appropriate for them. Courses can be customized to reflect business objectives and easily updated. Microlearning, small chunks of learning content, can be quickly created for areas where upskilling is required.
Learning and development gives a competitive advantage
Elearning apps and content can foster the creation of a culture of learning that attracts, retains, and upskills employees. Investment in training leads to greater job satisfaction and engagement as it offers people a clear path to career development and personal growth. It makes an organization the place to be for new hires and existing employees.
In an energy industry facing an existential transformation and a huge skills shortage, training and specifically elearning are a key differentiator.
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