Humanising the Energy Transition: Skills and competencies, are we prepared?

September 12, 2019

We know that the energy transition is here to stay, but do we have the right skills for it? Do we know what new skills are needed and how to develop them? Frank Gielen, InnoEnergy Education Director has some very interesting insights to these questions:

The context

Finding people with the right skills and mindset for a job is consistently among the top challenges for business leaders around the world, as noted in many annual CEO surveys, for example these ones by PwC, Fortune 500 and KPMG. It has also been found that the fastest-growing job categories are those that demand a combination of technical and social skills because although technical skills matter, social skills make the difference.

As well, climate change and global warming are happening faster than predicted by scientific models. This is creating a sense of urgency for the energy transition and showcases the need to move more human capital into sustainable energy faster and create impact sooner.

But it can be challenging for companies to tell what skills will be needed in the future. Should the skillsets be broader or more specialised? There is no easy answer, it’s a tightrope, according to this article by Energy Digital. But that’s because the energy transition as a whole is a fundamental shift. “Change is root and branch and if we’re to keep up a pace that allows Europe to be an environmental and business leader in clean energy, we need more hands on-deck” as stated in this article by Scitech Europa.

But according to the corporate world, the education systems is lacking real work-floor based education, and so, InnoEnergy and other companies who have their own internal academies have started to step in to fill the void.

The InnoEnergy example

At InnoEnergy, all our educational programmes look at challenges that have not yet been solved by working with leading energy companies such as Engie, Iberdrola, and EDP. We use real life case studies to help our students really acquire the skills they need, to truly learn. For us, the “sage on the stage” is an element of learning but it is not the only aspect of it. The InnoEnergy ecosystem is an active learning space where students apply their knowledge to innovation challenges presented by start-ups and companies within the InnoEnergy ecosystem. Helping them connect to companies. This provides students with a tailored, really unique real world learning experience.

In this way, we provide an immersive experience where they can speak to many different types of people who have multi-disciplinary skills, for example: the engineer talks to the societal impact person.

Focusing on all dimensions, not just technology

We know that the energy transition movement will change the way we live and think. And it will come down to everything that we use and do. We will need to make choices that are different from the choices we make today. The transition, doesn’t live by itself, and as such, people will need to widen their skill base to adapt to this change, so skills that related to: collaboration, leadership, creativity, ethics and flexibility for example will be of critical importance. Our future talent needs to understand the impact of technology on society, on people and on organisations and needs to be capable of leading this change.

This is the basis for creating a new type of (energy) engineer, the engineer of the future that will be a human centric. We need rethink the way we organise our education system to integrate humanities, social sciences, business and above all the ability to work across disciplines for finding the solutions that take into account the multiple dimensions and the complexity of the energy transition.

Matching skills and future needs

As a response to the way the world is progressing, InnoEnergy has developed a new initiative called the Building the Futureproof Workforce project which combines innovation, AI and learning skills for the sustainable energy sector. This project identifies industry needs, pinpoints emerging skill gaps in the sustainable energy sector, analyses the existing workforce to know where urgent skills gaps are situated and then refers employees (or employee groups) to a personalised learning trajectory to alleviate that skills gap. The combination of these steps ensures that the employees of the sustainable energy sector stay futureproof in a quickly changing working environment.

The aim of this project is that employees in the energy sector can get personalised learning advice based on their personal profile which would suggest them the right learning tracks in order to achieve the skills needed for the future of the energy sector. In the future you may even simply type in “Innovation Director for offshore wind energy” and the engine immediately recommends a tailored, personalised learning track consisting of a variety of certified, business trainings from both universities, corporate academies, open educational energy resources and coaching options.

Find out more about the Building the Futureproof Workforce project* during the live demonstrations taking place during The Business Booster and hear from Frank Gielen at the event where we will further explore the skills and mind-set required during the Parallel session: Skills gap or skills crisis? Learn more about the event here:

*If you are unable to attend the event but think your company would benefit from partnering with the Building the Futureproof Workforce project, let us know by emailing Yves Peirsman