Scottish Renewable Energy Firms in Need of More Engineers

Scottish Renewable Energy Firms in Need of More Engineers

A major new report has found renewable energy companies in Scotland are in need of more engineers to fulfil their future ambitions.

Scottish Renewables commissioned independent researchers to survey more than 540 companies in what is the most comprehensive jobs study to date.

Of those companies who were able to identify skills gaps more than a third (34.6%) said they were in need of more graduate level engineers, a further 98 (29.3%) said technician engineers, and 93 (27.8%) said they needed more instrumentation and construction engineers.

Joss Blamire, Senior Policy Manager for Scottish Renewables, which represents more than 330 organisations working in the industry, said: “The message coming from renewable energy companies is loud and clear; they need more engineers to bring their skills and training experience into the sector.

“Scottish Renewables will be working with skills partnerships such as Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Government to ensure that we are doing all we can to plug these gaps.

“At a time when companies are looking to expand its concerning that engineering featured in the top three skills shortages in the renewable energy sector in Scotland. In order for the renewables sector to continue to flourish we need to ensure that the right mechanisms are in place to allow Scotland to meet this growing demand for skilled engineers.”

The findings also suggest 11,695 people are currently in full-time employment, an increase of 5% from the previous year, and more than half the companies surveyed (54%) said they expected employment to rise over the next 12 months.

Welcoming the report, Rob Orr, Strategic Relations Manager for Energy at Skills Development Scotland, said: “We welcome this report as we seek to refresh the Energy Skills Investment Plan. Since 2011, we have seen significant increases in students entering university to undertake engineering courses, as well as focused college provision including specific wind turbine technician courses across the country.

“In addition, it is encouraging to note that the take-up of Modern Apprenticeships in engineering and energy-related subjects has increased by 35%.

“It is vitally important that we continue to work with industry to understand future growth aspirations and skills requirements which attract young people and those with transferable skills to the sector.”

Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive of Scottish Engineering, said the findings reinforced the need for “urgent government action” to investment in apprenticeships.

He said: “The position of the renewables industry is familiar territory for Scottish Engineering and its members. We have been campaigning for years regarding skills shortages that continue to inhibit growth but thankfully we are now seeing practical responses come through with initiatives on the part of individual member companies and undertakings such as the Engineering Academy led by Strathclyde University.

“This further reinforces the need for urgent government action to invest in the appropriate apprenticeships rather than adopting a scatter-gun classification taking in all trades from hairdressers to CNC operators.

“Official figures tend to highlight the number of apprenticeships being undertaken rather than the various disciplines in which they are based. This can, in some cases come down to cost, with an engineering apprenticeship costing as much as £50,000 to complete.”

Mr Buchan added: “Many of our member companies are directly involved in various aspects of the renewables industry but we see considerable potential for a fuller contribution from the established indigenous engineering sector.”

Press release, January 20, 2014; Image: scottishrenewables