Transferable skills for a career in Renewable Energy

Transferable skills for a career in Renewable Energy
Phili Alexander

Transferable skills for a career in Renewable Energy

Are you looking to transition to a career within Renewables? Read our top tips on how to identify your transferable skills.

The Renewable Energy sector continues to blossom, as the demand for clean energy grows. While technology plays a huge role in this, it’s workers who are at the heart of the energy transition.

Take this stat for example. Even during the pandemic disrupted year of 2020, half a million jobs were added in the Renewables sector, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The same body also predicts that by the year 2050, total employment within Renewables will be up to 100 million.

With so many opportunities available, in an area which will continue to be a key global priority, it’s a great time to make a career change. But what do you need to be aware of if you’re transitioning to a career within Renewables, and what skills do you need?

Read on for some of our top tips.

Evaluate your industry experience

First things first, it’s important to analyse your industry experience. Some industries are particularly useful in terms of giving you a head start within Renewables.

For example, if you work within Oil & Gas – the other side of the energy coin – you’ll find yourself in high demand, as many of the skills and processes you currently use are applicable to Renewables.

Similarly, if you have a background in Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC), you should have the ability to manage large-scale infrastructure projects – perfect for the Renewable Energy sector! Logistical experience is also great to have if you want to work on sites that are being built.

It’s not just about the obvious industries though. Perhaps you’re an engineer that works at sea. In that case, you could investigate roles related to wave energy, or within the offshore wind energy industry.

Analyse your transferable technical skills

No matter what field you work in, you are bound to have some transferable skills. What you need to do is identify what they are and then emphasise them throughout the job search – in your CV, cover letter and job interviews.

If you’re already a civil, electrical or mechanical engineer in another area, then there’s plenty for you to highlight. In Renewables, you’ll generally be managing projects that involve Solar Energy or Battery Storage, but a lot of the technical and organisational skills you use in your current sector will still apply. Examples include being able to interpret drawings to a high standard and being at an advanced level with computer-aided design software.

Those who work within Construction or Project Management should also keep a close eye on vacancies within Renewables, as skills here are easily transferable. Examples include the ability to put together a Programme of Works (PoW), allocate resources and supervise sites.

Health and safety skills are also highly transferable from almost any industry. There will of course need to be some training specifically related to Renewables, but the general experience will stand you in good stead.

Showcase your soft skills

Those are all some of the technical skills. But you might find that your soft skills are easier to highlight. Some of the key ones required within Renewables are:

  • Communication (written and verbal)
  • Problem solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Flexibility
  • An analytical mindset
  • The ability to absorb and then simplify complex information

If you feel you have most of these, then you will definitely be seen as an appealing candidate. Don’t overlook or downplay them and just focus on the technical side of things.

You can also draw upon experiences you’ve had away from the workplace. For example, if you spent time away looking after your children, talk about skills such as discipline and multi-tasking that you’ve needed. If you’ve travelled, you may have picked up international knowledge. This could prove to be quite useful – we actually work with a lot of businesses who either have or want to grow their global presence.

You should also emphasise any training courses you have done. This shows your passion and ambition to potential employers. For example, if you’re a Project Manager, have you gained any certifications? The most popular ones are Prince2, Project Manager Professional (PMP) and Association for Project Management (APM). These will add real value to your CV.

Immerse yourself within Renewables

Research is the key to any job hunt, but even more so if transferring industries. Absorb as much knowledge as you can – download research reports, keep up with the latest news, join relevant groups and forums, and start networking.

Speak with recruiters who specialise within Renewables – these are people who know the industry in great depth. It’s far better to use recruiters that are sector specialists when you’re moving to a new industry, as their insight will give you the extra 10% you need to stand out.

Your research will also help you work out exactly what you want to do in Renewables. There are many different types of projects, such as offshore wind or battery storage ones. Different roles will also require different skills. If you’re someone who prefers to be on-site every day, a Project Manager or Site Engineer role would be good, whereas a Quantity Surveyor role will see you spending more time at a desk crunching numbers.

Think about which location you want to work in as well. If you go down the Site Engineer route, it offers the opportunity to work on a site abroad. In fact, even if you choose to stay in the UK, there are many roles which require the Lead or Senior Engineers to travel to overseas sites occasionally. Ask yourself whether this is something you want, or whether you’d prefer to stay local.

Use the right keywords on your CV

Many CVs go through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and are scanned for specific keywords. Therefore, it’s important that your CV has the right ones on it, which are related to the Renewable Energy sector. Make sure they’re not just stuffed in though – incorporate them in a natural way.

Transferable skills are always a great thing to have, particularly when there is economic uncertainty in some markets. The exciting thing about the Renewable Energy sector is that there is no uncertainty and no room for doubt – it’s a fast-growing area which has the backing of policy makers. That means the job opportunities are there. It’s down to you to put the work in and grasp them.

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