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Published on 26th July 2023

Doubling down on diversity

The skills demands on the renewable energy industry are very real – but we’re trying to solve them with one hand tied behind our back.
While our industry does better at diversity than some, we’re still hamstrung by a failure to attract talent from a wide enough pool. And for an industry moving at the pace of ours, that really matters.
Essentially, and as we say to graduates and school-leavers as an industry body, we need everyone, as quickly as possible.

The jobs available in renewables are incredibly diverse, from technicians who climb turbines to control room staff who monitor hundreds of these remarkable machines from a distance. We also need skilled lawyers, environmental consultants, architects, planners, electrical engineers, projects managers (LOTS of project managers) and more. The list is almost endless.
Without these skilled people, we won’t reach our net-zero targets – but that’s only half the battle.

Because renewable energy delivers economic and environmental benefits in every community it touches, from the uplands where peat (a vital carbon sink) is being restored by wind farm developers to the towns and villages reinvigorated by indirect spending (think caterers, hotels and taxi firms which swing into action when a project’s being built).
So a lack of skilled people means a lack of green power and heat projects and, at in a very real sense, a loss of economic opportunity across the board.
So what’s to be done?
This isn’t a problem which can be fixed by industry alone, although we have a part to play.

An example: only around 20% of A Level physics students are girls – a figure which has not changed in 25 years. The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe. These two figures are connected, of course.
So we need government and its agencies to help keep diversity in STEM subjects where it has otherwise been leaking out. Parents have to tell their children that opportunities in renewables are real, and help them grasp them.

And, as mentioned, industry has to step up too.
We can’t just sit back and hope that something changes in the outside world, so at Scottish Renewables we’ve launched a new campaign to seek and find a new set of industry ambassadors who can help us tell the world that we are an industry that will welcome and support diversity wholly and completely.
With the support of Ørsted we have launched the New Voices Campaign to draw talent from our membership to be those ambassadors.
We want new people and new faces (and their voices of course!) to bring something new to our conference programme, as well as spreading the word more widely through other opportunities and organisations.
So if you are younger, older, physically or mentally impaired, in the process of transitioning, in a same sex couple, defined by your race or colour, live your life to a particular religious or philosophical belief (or none!), were first in your family to go to university or expecting a child then we would love you to take part in our New Voices programme.

Find out more on our website before the nominations closing date of Wednesday, August 9.
And finally, a word to those who also have a role to play in attracting diverse talent to our industry: talk about what you do, and talk about it with pride.
We’re all ambassadors for the journey to net-zero and hearing that pride in your voice might just be the encouragement a young person needs to take a leap and go for it in what I think is the world’s most exciting sector.

Nick Sharpe, Director of Communications and Strategy, Scottish Renewables