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TRANSFERABLE SKILLS

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Energy employers must be more prepared to hire people with transferable skills and provide training when they cannot find the specialists they need.

Qualified electrical and mechanical engineers with core skills are moving from industries such as aerospace and defence into the power generation, renewables and nuclear sectors. There has also been an increase in ex-armed forces engineers coming into the industry.

Yet the energy sector must continue to shout loudly about the exciting career opportunities and attractive pay and benefits available to tempt people from other industries.

“Transferable skills are important and engineers remain in high demand in energy,” says Beacock. “If you have done some form of engineering you can readily adapt your career.”

  Request your copy of the 2014 Hays Energy Salary Guide

She says one of the strengths of the energy industry is its ability to train staff to a high standard in what are often highly-specialist and high-tech roles. More than one quarter of respondents (27%) describe their job as specialist and technical.

“Often it can be quicker for an employer to hire an electrical engineer from a different industry such as transport and train them up rather than developing someone from scratch,” says Beacock.

Industry might find this a cheaper option than poaching an expert from a rival. Importantly it is also means making the right kind of investment in growing your own skill pool.

Of those in engineering roles, 15% work in energy engineering, 15% in mechanical engineering and 10% in electrical engineering. More than 12 other engineering disciplines including development, safety, environmental and geological & mining engineers also took part in the survey.

Ankit Nangalia says this remains a candidate-led market. “A good candidate would have enough transferable skills to be of interest to at least three employers across a range of sectors,” he says.

Of all those surveyed, not just engineers, 30% are involved in oil and gas upstream work, 16% mid and downstream activities, 16% in energy demand and efficiency and 9% in utilities. Other sectors covered include contracting for renewables and nuclear, retail, emergency response and oil and gas servicing.

Where there are serious skill shortages, such as in nuclear, transmission and distribution and within the renewables sector, employers have to cast their net wider to find people with those transferable skills.

Mike Morgan, senior manager at Hays Energy, says there are not enough engineers going through university and into the nuclear industry and most people with the high-end technical skills needed are in the older age groups.

“Employers are not only looking to other highly regulated industries where people are used to working in very controlled environments but are having to think more creatively,” he says. “Some are finding transferable skills in machining industries where engineers designing technically challenging equipment with an array of mechanisms and moving parts are a good fit for the challenges faced within a technically-difficult highly-regulated sector.”

When respondents were asked what advice they would give young people looking for a career in energy 62% said to develop specialist technical skills, 53% suggested gaining professional qualifications and 47% advised people to develop their skills with several employers.

Energy is an industry where people really value being able to improve their professional qualifications, so employers must encourage their workers to develop their skills.

  Request your copy of the 2014 Hays Energy Salary Guide

Qualifications may be an important part of someone’s career in energy yet the results indicate that you do not need a masters to succeed. Some 10% have a technical diploma or similar and 9% have achieved Chartered status.

Beacock says people are achieving Chartered professional membership of the EI much younger than they used to. The EI offers Chartered status to engineers, scientists, sustainable development professionals and energy managers who typically have at least four years’ experience.

More than half (56%) of those who responded to the survey are members of the EI. Among the under 25s the proportion is 84%.

 

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