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How we’re helping Job Transition in the energy industry

John Storey · 9 June 2021

Significant shifts in the energy industry means that many workers will need new skills to facilitate their step from traditional generation to low carbon alternatives. This is why Prospect held a series of training sessions to help our members, explains energy organiser, John Storey.

The energy industry is changing. We have already seen significant shifts in how electricity is produced, moving firstly away from coal into gas, and now increasingly towards zero carbon sources such as wind and solar. These changes will only accelerate in future, as we move towards net zero carbon.

This has repercussions for our members in the energy industry, whether it’s from the risk of losing employment, or the requirement to re-skill and change roles.

As well as the human cost, there is also a projected (and existing) shortfall in many skill areas, and a significant part of filling that gap entails keeping hold of skilled workers in the industry and ensuring that they are equipped to operate in a changing energy sector (for example, recent research by National Grid estimates that we will need to fill 400,000 roles over the next 3 decades to deliver net zero.)

In order to try and ensure that our members not only maintain employment, but also that they are at the heart of a just transition in the energy sector, Prospect organised a series of events to enable members to learn about the transition to renewables, ask questions of employers, and refresh their job application skills.

We organised three information and question sessions: with RWE, with EDF, and a third session open to the entire energy sector. We identified three key themes:

Employment terms – including:

  • what happens to my pension?
  • wage and grade equivalency if moving from thermal, networks or nuclear into renewables
  • job security
  • whether it’s necessary to live close to site
  • and the impact of working from home.

Skills

  • How can specialist skills built up in one part of the industry be applied to renewables?
  • How can retraining be accessed and who pays for it?
  • Are all skills in job descriptions required, or is there potential for development in a new role?
  • How can I assess and describe my transferable skills?

Culture

  • Will I be a fit for the job?
  • How do ways of working differ?
  • What happens if I don’t fit in?

We also organised a series of training sessions enabling members to refresh their CVs, job search and interview skills.

We have had some great feedback from the sessions. Among the comments were:

Thank you to Prospect for hosting this very informative session, I really appreciate this

Good session and should be repeated  – in different and upcoming industries.

Thank you very much, very useful, much appreciated.  Well done Prospect, great support for members running webinars like this 🙂

We intend to follow up with proposals on how we can work with companies to improve the process of transition into new parts of the sector.

This will include discussions around how to ensure comparable terms and conditions are achieved, how to ensure that people don’t self-select out of applying for new roles because of skills and experience requirements (perceived and actual), the possibility and practicalities of trial periods to assess whether a new role is a good fit, and how to maintain employment continuity.

Overall, we are targeting a transparent, fair, joined-up process for intra-company transition and, in the longer term, how to apply this to the whole sector.

We will also be running further sessions on soft skills, to enable our members to best position themselves when change occurs.

We need a plan to support workers to transition to net zero roles in an equitable way. There have been some steps in the right direction, particularly from the Just Transition Commission set up by the Scottish Government.

However, we need similar action by the UK Government. Prospect is committed to continue pushing the case for a just transition for energy sector workers.


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Energy

From generation to transmission, Prospect represents the interests of over 22,000 members working across all parts of the energy sector.