Creating a skilled workforce tailored to delivering regional energy transitions


The transition of all sectors away from existing fossil fuel technologies and associated business models is a huge challenge, not least because it requires a workforce with the right skills in the right places. This project will explore the extent to which some places will be more vulnerable to having a future redundant workforce or skills shortages under different scenarios and the implications of this to the nature and pace of energy demand transitions. It will also deliver interactive tools to support the skills transition, including approaches to engaging the next generation of skilled low carbon professionals. This project has three aims. First, understand the number, nature and profile of skillsets available and needed in different geographical areas. Second, identify how different transition pathways intersect with sectoral skills needs and labour assets. Third, broaden the diversity of people able to participate in, and develop tools to support a rapid scaling up of, the low carbon workforce. The project has four interconnected strands of work.

First, place-based exploration of different energy demand transition pathways and what they mean for the number and type of jobs needed in distinct regions. This strand will use modelling developed with the Positive Low Energy Futures project, and involve collaboration with the Futures theme, to build a bottom-up model of skills needs and the degree of skills risk that exists on delivering energy demand reduction scenarios. Drawing on this evaluation of skills needs in distinct regions, the second strand will gather evidence of young people’s perceptions of low carbon careers. This will include creative workshops with young people in regions with distinct future skills needs, and the co-development and testing of educational tools with education and industry bodies.

The final two strands will think more broadly about who gets to take part in energy transitions. The first of these will focus on detailed evaluation of procurement and employment principles (e.g. working patterns, parental leave) across existing retrofitting schemes, to explore whether development of these can support a more diverse low carbon workforce. The second will identify and classify different forms of informal infrastructural labour (e.g. repair and maintenance of homes, reciprocity in providing materials and skills, knowledge exchange), and analyse how government bodies, charities, companies and practitioners (e.g. DLUHC, Agility Eco, Groundwork) can integrate and support this currently-unrecognised work in labour policy and skill-building strategies to accelerate uptake. private individuals and professionals involved in low carbon transitions constantly support the material and social well-being of households who undergo energy upgrades, or changes in energy demand practices.

Research questions:

  • What do different transition pathways mean for the number and type of jobs needed in distinct regions?
  • How can young people be supported to pursue low carbon careers in distinct regions?
  • What procurement and employment principles might support a more diverse energy workforce?
  • How can we build area-based approaches to net zero energy transition by integrating everyday, lived relationships and networks between people and the places in which they live?