Is Green the New Black? -by Harris Karaolides, InterSearch Energy & Renewable Energy Practice Leader
InterSearch Worldwide considers the impact of the green revolution – solar-powered by newly elected President of the USA – on the talent market.
Across the globe we are all feeling the effects of climate change and the inaction of world leaders – on our health, finances, and overall quality of life. The coronavirus pandemic, which emerging research suggests is aggravated by air pollution, has shed new light on this reality.
While the Trump administration favoured the oil and gas industry, Biden’s team will also be paying significant attention to renewable energy. Biden’s policies respect the incontrovertible scientific evidence that swift and robust action is required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid serious socio-economic consequences. He has pledged to build a more resilient, sustainable, clean energy economy to meet the 2050 Paris Agreement deadline.
Trump described Biden’s focus on climate change as a recipe for economic devastation, accusing him of risking millions of American jobs. However, Biden has promised a clean energy revolution that creates millions of unionised middle-class jobs. His vision requires policy makers and clean-energy companies to replace the number of fossil-fuel jobs that could be lost in the transition from coal and oil.
According to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, salary and benefits in the wind and solar power industries, fundamental to a clean energy transition, lag those in oil, gas and coal. Once established, solar and wind energy installations usually require less staff to maintain than oil and gas infrastructure, and both industries rely on imported components to keep costs low, potentially affecting job creation. However, Biden’s $2 trillion climate plan, relatively double the cost to put the first man on the moon, not only envisions a measured transition, it also intends to create jobs across a variety of other sectors, including construction, power transmission, electric vehicle manufacturing, and charging infrastructure.
Commenting specifically on the automotive sector, Malena Juárez, Regional Leader Americas Energy & Renewables Practice Group of InterSearch, says:
“Biden’s climate and clean energy plan will have a direct impact in different industrial sectors, one of them the automotive industry. His project will include building a strong structure of skilled trades like engineering workers in order to help make the clean energy economy possible. Electric vehicle manufacturing could be particularly attractive to those countries with a currently high dependency on oil imports and a positive electricity trade balance. Of course, one important factor is both the development and variation in the price of oil vs. electricity in the different countries.”
The Biden administration acknowledges the possibility of initial growing pains as the nation transitions to a cleaner energy infrastructure, but his plan includes retraining and other support for traditional fossil fuel workers who might be affected.
While workers are eager to retrain to escape “black gold’s” boom-and-bust cycles, recently evidenced during the pandemic as people drive and fly less, some are concerned about the lower salaries in the renewable energy industry. However, salaries are likely to increase automatically as the renewable energy sector grows, becomes unionised and is pressured to attract more workers. Jobs such as wind technicians and solar panel installers are the first and third fastest growing positions, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, and electric vehicles and other related industries are powering ahead led by visionaries such as Elon Musk.
In fact, some analysts and economists believe that Wall Street’s increasing investment in the renewable energy sector has the potential to provide more jobs than any fossil fuel industry. Says Ana Ber, Regional Leader Central & Eastern Europe Energy & Renewables Practice Group of InterSearch:
“Jobs in renewable energy can be created directly and indirectly along the entire value chain, including in the manufacturing and distribution of equipment; the production of inputs such as chemicals; or even in services like project management and operation. We all should be aware that the success of implementing green policies is dependent on the availability of skilled people. With the green revolution just starting, upskilling and reskilling are indispensable and companies as well as governments must take responsibility for this. To implement such a program you need a clear strategy and answering key questions, such how to finance it. In Europe we already see some initiatives, for example Enel in Romania including upskilling in their CSR program, and the CSR Europe/JP Morgan initiative ‘Upskill 4 Future’ which launched pilot projects in Spain, Italy, France and Poland.“
The agricultural sector will also likely benefit from jobs through the increased harvesting of feedstock and other biomass, and roles related to natural pesticides, efficient land management and aquaculture.
Improved energy supply through renewable sources, as opposed to diminishing traditional fuels, will contribute to the expansion of existing economic activities in other sectors, and jobs in renewable energy production involve less hazardous working conditions. This not only means additional jobs, but better quality jobs.
“Biden will be keen to push for exports of energy as USA is largely self-sufficient in energy, and this will augur well for fighting climate change at a global level, this is the need of the hour and he will lead from the front on this aspect,”
The executive search & recruitment industry is observing the rise of new training programmes and roles pertaining to energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage, energy trading, green manufacturing and construction, environmental specialities, public transportation and recycling. Just as the digital revolution created brand new jobs such as Data Analyst, Scrum Master, and Digital Strategist, so too is the green revolution sprouting job titles such as Soil Planning Specialist and Environmental Protection Manager. And, of course, there is the question of corporate leadership:
“How do you recruit senior people for an industry that hasn’t been around long enough to have enough senior people in it? This is what our clients are asking” Jan Oinaes, Regional Leader North & Western Europe Energy & Renewables Practice Group of InterSearch.“ That’s where an executive search firm with a proven deep understanding of the sector can really add value.”
Amid a devastating pandemic and economic calamity, the 2020 U.S. election is the first in history with climate change playing a role; a trend that will no doubt permeate the rest of the world. While some may continue to argue the expense of addressing global warming; the devastating costs of leaving climate change unchecked can be considered much more so.
InterSearch Worldwide is a leading global executive search organization. Established in 1989, InterSearch ranks as one of the top international executive search organizations in the world, with more than 90 offices in over 50 countries. Through a network of partner firms and their breadth of knowledge and expertise, InterSearch provides clients with access to exceptional candidates anywhere across the globe, with experienced locally based consultants in each individual market.
Energy & Renewable Energy Practice Leader
Are you facing challenges recruiting top-notch talent for the Renewable Energy sector anywhere in the world? Please contact Harris Karaolides on firstname.lastname@example.org +971 50 5502701 for more information on how InterSearch Worldwide can help.