Can Your Digital Skills Get You Hired in Renewable Energy?

Automation and Evolution Is Powered by Digital Skills

Could your digital skills earn you a lucrative career in a high growth sector? With a new president promising massive investment and job creation in renewable energy, the potential for job creation in the sector is huge. Indeed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, the top two highest growth jobs are in the renewable energy sector.

In this article, we examine the outlook for the renewable energy sector as it embraces digitalization – and what skillsets could enable you to transition to a highly-paid and rewarding career in the sector.

A Decarbonized Power Industry by 2035

2020 was a breakthrough year for the United States renewable energy sector. According to research from Deloitte:

  • The share of renewables exceeded that of coal for 153 days
  • This was almost four times as many as the 39 days in 2019
  • The new federal administration is likely to invest $2 trillion into clean energy
  • The aim is to fully decarbonize the power industry by 2035

This investment is likely to support expansion into new renewable technologies, including hydrogen and storage. Digitalization is already helping to evolve business models in the industry, and digital skills are likely to be in high demand.

Automation Will Create Jobs

As the renewable energy sector continues to benefit from digitalization and automation, the energy sector is likely to follow the lead of the general economy. While many jobs will be displaced, many more will be created.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020 forecasts that the ‘robot revolution’ will create 97 million new jobs over the next five years. Workforces will be restructured to:

  • Introduce further automation to decrease current workforce
  • Expand workforces because of deeper technological integration
  • Expand use of contractors for project-specific work

Job displacement will lead to high-skilled jobs replacing existing lower-skilled jobs. We are already witnessing this shift in the renewables sector.

The Grid Is Evolving Digitally

Utility companies are employing digitalization to reshape the power industry. Advanced data analytics are being used to adjust energy production and delivery along the grid, responding to real-time data to automatically balance supply and demand.

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are being adopted in the industry, helping distributed energy resource management systems (DERMS) to integrate renewables into the grid, with smart sensors deployed to aid the control of power flow.

Digital Skills Are Now a Necessity

As data is used to transform how the grid operates, utility companies require digital skills to continue this evolution. They need talented professionals who have experience in and understanding of data science and analytics, cloud computing, and networking – with 5G on the near horizon, too.

With the demand for digital skills set to rise 55% by 2030 (McKinsey & Company) across all industries, energy and utility companies are in a battle to secure the talent they need to take advantage of new technologies. In an industry in which costs are being hammered, at least in part, by AI/ML systems that enable accurate prediction of industrial and residential use, digital skills are no longer a ‘nice-to-have’. They are a necessity to remain competitive.

Without the skills to develop highly connected, agile, automated grids that control the process of generation to delivery to the consumer, utilities will fail in their goals of reducing operational costs, improving maintenance efficiency, and increasing reliability.

A New Culture Is Evolving

In response to the demand for digital skills and the shortage of them, utilities are evolving their cultures. The best companies are now focused on developing their people, providing continuous learning opportunities, and emboldening innovation. It’s an exciting industry for those who desire job satisfaction and high rewards, in jobs that align with their skillsets and their personal values.

The Renewables Industry Needs Digital Skillsets Today

Of course, while a digital learning culture is crucial to the sustainability of businesses in this sector, in the short-term companies require these skills immediately. Consequently, there is big competition for skilled and talented technology and IT professionals in the energy sector. This is exacerbated by demand for similar skills across the whole of the United States’ economy, from finance to manufacturing, to leisure.

The most in-demand skills include:

  • Date science and data analytics
  • Software programmers and developers
  • AI and ML skills

Opportunities exist from entry-level graduates through to the most senior roles. If your technical skills are combined with exceptional soft skills (communication, management, organizational, etc.), the demand for your signature could be high.

If you are a professional already in the industry, or you are currently considering a career transition and possess digital skills, we would like to hear from you. For a confidential discussion, contact TotalTek today.

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