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How to refresh offshore wind’s hiring strategy to avoid project delays

Published by , Editor
Energy Global,

In the second part of a two-part article, Jordan Mason, Contract Recruitment Manager, Airswift, looks at the geographics of recruitment, the friendly competition from other sectors for skills, and how certification can be a barrier for some candidates.

The technology sector is a peer

There is an increasing overlap in skills between the renewables and technology sectors. Expertise in SCADA systems, cyber security, and IT are all highly sought after by offshore wind. As such, the technology sector is a peer and a rival for talent from which the renewables sector often faces stiff competition.

While remuneration and benefits packages are becoming more comparable, one major selling point of the renewables sector is typical contract lengths. Most offshore wind projects take several years to design, build, and commission, which presents the opportunity for contractors to work on one project and with one team for an extended period. This not only offers job security, but also a depth of experience that is not so readily achieved if working on several shorter projects.

Being open to different education and experience

It remains quite common to see highly competent candidates sifted out of the interview pile because they do not meet specific education or experience requirements considered essential to the role. And the same happens in reverse too – well qualified candidates are put off applying because they do not have a master’s degree in renewable energy or sustainable engineering, for example, despite having worked in the sector for the best part of a decade.

The industry regularly talks about the potential to bridge the skills gap by filling roles with candidates from adjacent sectors such as technology, oil and gas, and power, but this will not be made to happen at scale if the industry does not become more open minded about the backgrounds of candidates that are interviewed. Every job description should be thorough to ensure everything that is labelled essential is indeed essential and could not possibly be achieved any other way.

Offer certification and training to suitable candidates

Many candidates from adjacent sectors have a wealth of complementary skills that would make them an ideal fit for offshore wind, but naturally do not have the right Global Wind Organisation (GWO) certificates to do so. The package cost for all five mandatory safety courses is over £1000, which is prohibitive to some would-be applicants.

Industry initiatives that ease the burden of certification on the worker are welcomed. For example, GWO’s Safety Training Access Programme allows qualifying workers with existing certification to follow a fast-track route rather than undertake the full mandatory training. However, offering certification as part of all appropriate recruitment drives, and particularly for positions that are renumerated via payroll, would significantly boost the number of potential candidates applying.

Structural engineering roles are another good example. The principles for designing an oil and gas jacket foundation are not all that dissimilar to those for an offshore substation or wind turbine generator (WTG) for an offshore wind project. Recruits may need support with learning new software or adhering to specific industry or geographic standards, but at the core, structural engineering is still structural engineering.

Across the renewables industry, creating an ample pipeline of talent remains a work in progress, with the pressure set to increase as markets grow in line with global ambitions. Hiring managers will need to push on every open door to attract candidates into the sector and evolve their hiring strategies to support efforts to do so.

The first part of the article is available to read here.



For more news and technical articles from the global renewable industry, read the latest issue of Energy Global magazine.

Energy Global's Winter 2022 issue

The Winter 2022 issue of Energy Global hosts an array of technical articles focusing on wind, solar, energy storage, geothermal, and more. This issue also features a regional report on the Australian renewables sector.

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