Over 88,000 jobs in wind power and marine energy industries by 2021

Skills shortages must be addressed to ensure well-qualified staff can fill gaps. Government and industry urged to ramp up training to stop jobs going abroad.

RenewableUK and Energy & Utility Skills have published a new report demonstrating the employment potential of the UK’s wind turbines and marine energy sector by 2021. The study, "Working for a Green Britain Vol 2", outlines three possible market development scenarios (high growth, medium and low) in the wind, wave and tidal energy industries – if sufficient skilled recruits are available to employers.

Under the medium growth scenario, 67,200 new jobs will be created in the sector and its supply chain as wind farm and marine capacity reaches 41.5 gigawatts (GW) – up from 21,100 jobs in 2010.

The high growth scenario (51.8GW) would require 115,000 full-time employees working directly in the sector or supporting it by providing raw materials, manufacturing or supplying business support services.

Under the low growth scenario, with just 25.7GW of installed capacity, just 44,000 jobs would be supported. The report notes that this would represent a failure of the UK to harness both the economic and socio-political benefits offered by the renewables sector.

The study suggests that the UK skills system is currently failing to ensure that an adequate supply of qualified new recruits is entering the labour market. It warns that a failure to address this issue could result in jobs going abroad, or being carried out in Britain by non-UK companies and workers.

The message for employers is clear – invest in your workforce, both current and future, and work with the providers of skills to ensure that they are meeting your requirements. The message for Government and skills providers is equally stark – the supply of appropriate skills to the labour market needs to ramp up rapidly over the coming years to meet rising demand. This applies both to young people entering the labour market and those looking for a career change.

To achieve this growth, the UK needs an effective and stable policy and legislative framework for renewables, which provides clear incentives for private sector investment, and which encourages a willingness among all parties to invest in the people and skills required to underpin expansion.

Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive of RenewableUK said "This report shows the enormous potential that exists within the renewable energy industries to provide tens of thousands of permanent, well-paid jobs for the engineers, scientists, technicians and economists of the future – building on the enormous successes we have achieved already. However, we must ensure that the right training is available to ensure that the workforce has the appropriate skills to serve this dynamic sector, as it continues to expand at an extraordinary rate."

Tim Balcon, Chief Executive of Energy & Utility Skills, said that "This research provides clear and compelling evidence of the need for government, employers, and the providers of skills to work in collaboration to meet the skills needs of this rapidly growing sector of the UK economy. No one organisation or company can achieve this on their own. Both EU Skills and the National Skills Academy for Power are working hard to make sure that the UK skills system is aware of the scale of the challenges ahead and are capable of meeting employers’ needs going forward."

The report, commissioned by RenewableUK and Energy and Utility Skills (the Sector Skills Council), was written by Cambridge Econometrics. It follows the publication of "Working for a Green Britain: Vol 1" in February, which showed that 10,600 workers are currently employed full-time in the wind, wave and tidal sectors (Authors: Warwick Institute for Employment Research, Cambridge Econometrics, IFF).

RenewableUK is the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. Formed in 1978, and with 664 corporate members, RenewableUK is the leading renewable energy trade association in the UK. Wind energy has been the world’s fastest growing renewable energy source for the last seven years, and this trend is expected to continue with falling costs of wind energy and the urgent international need to tackle CO2 emissions to prevent climate change.

Energy & Utility Skills (EU Skills) is the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for the gas, power, waste management and water industries, licensed by Government and working under the guidance of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). Employer-led, our purpose is to ensure that our industries have the skills they need now and in the future.