Building new skills to grow emerging renewable industries

Emerging renewable industries are driving the need for new technologies, helping Australia compete on the world stage while creating jobs and jumpstarting the economy. AIS is working to support industry sectors to be forward-looking, flexible, and responsive in skills development, as new opportunities and challenges arise.

The success story of renewable energies in Australia is reflected in two reports recently released by the Clean Energy Council (CEC). The Clean Energy at Work report released last week highlights the results of the largest study of current and projected employment in the renewable energy industry in Australia, covering small-scale rooftop solar, large-scale solar and wind, hydro and pumped hydro, battery storage and the associated supply chains. It finds that the renewable energy industry, which currently employs over 25,000 workers, could generate 44,000 jobs by 2025. It also projects 70 per cent of renewable energy jobs could be in rural and regional Australia by 2035.

The second report,  A Clean Recovery, argues that investment in renewable energy and energy storage can assist the national economic recovery effort post COVID-19 by creating thousands of new jobs, empowering consumers, bringing economic activity to regional communities, lowering power prices and creating the smart infrastructure of the future that can cement Australia’s place as a global clean energy superpower.

The ESI Generation and Transmission Distribution and Rail Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) are completing two projects in wind power generation and renewable technologies that provide the necessary skills for the growing number of field operations roles required by Australia’s power generation sector. These projects will help workers acquire technical skills identified as a priority for the renewable energy industry.

In November 2019, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council published Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy, which outlines an adaptive approach equipping Australia to quickly ‘scale-up’ as the hydrogen market grows. It includes a set of nationally co-ordinated actions involving governments, industry, and the community.

A strategic priority for the Gas IRC is to review, update and develop units of competency and qualifications, as hydrogen power becomes increasingly important to the training packages of various industry sectors.

Specific skills gaps have already been identified in relation to handling, distribution, and safety management of hydrogen at the trade level.

AIS is working closely with the Australian Hydrogen Council and initiating industry engagement strategies to identify and document skills needed to harness hydrogen technology.