Global energy sector facing skills shortage, IEA warns

15th November 2023


Green technologies are driving job growth in the world’s energy sector, but skill shortages are an increasing concern, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned.

In a report published today, the agency reveals that employment in the global energy sector rose to 67 million people last year, an increase of 3.5 million from pre-pandemic levels.

More than half of the new jobs were in just five sectors: solar PV, wind, electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries, heat pumps, and critical minerals mining.

As a result, clean energy employment now represents over half of total energy sector jobs, having overtaken fossil fuels in 2021.

However, a survey by the IEA with 160 energy firms globally found that skilled labour shortages are a key barrier to ramping up activity, with supply failing to keep pace with demand.

This is particularly true for vocational workers like electricians specialised for energy-sector work, as well as professionals in science, technology and engineering.

“The unprecedented acceleration that we have seen in clean energy transitions is creating millions of new job opportunities all over the world – but these are not being filled quickly enough,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol.

“Governments, industry and educational institutions need to put in place programmes to deliver the expertise needed in the energy sector to keep pace with growing demand, particularly to manufacture and build the clean energy projects necessary to meet our energy and climate goals.”

The uptick of clean energy jobs occurred in every region of the world, with China home to the largest energy workforce today, accounting for the greatest share of jobs added globally.

Around 36% of the world’s energy workers are in high-skilled occupations, compared with about 27% for the wider economy.

Jobs in fossil fuel industries have also seen an increase year-on-year, but the rebound has been more subdued, leaving employment below pre-pandemic levels, despite oil and gas companies experiencing record revenues in 2022.

The IEA forecasts that 30 million new clean energy jobs will be created if the energy sector is to be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, with close to 13 million jobs in fossil fuel-related industries at risk

This means that around two clean energy jobs would be created for every fossil fuel-related job lost.

The report comes after IEMA launched its Green Careers Hub, providing businesses and individuals with all the information they need on green skills and potential career pathways.

Over 40 organisations and businesses have also recently backed IEMA’s campaign to get green skills and training on the agenda at COP28.

CEO, Sarah Mukherjee MBE, commented: “IEMA is sending a strong message to government, along with colleagues from a wide range of organisations and businesses, that we need to start addressing the skills gaps to adapt to the real climate emergency.

“We’re delighted to be supported by so many organisations who recognise, like we do, the great need for a green-skilled workforce both domestically and internationally.”

Image credit: Shutterstock

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

EU and UK citizens fear net-zero delivery deficit

Support for net zero remains high across the UK and the EU, but the majority of citizens don't believe that major emitters and governments will reach their climate targets in time.

16th May 2024

Read more

There is strong support for renewable energy as a source of economic growth among UK voters, particularly among those intending to switch their support for a political party.

16th May 2024

Read more

Despite cost-of-living concerns, four-fifths of shoppers are willing to pay more for sustainably produced or sourced goods, a global survey has found.

16th May 2024

Read more

One in five UK food businesses are not prepared for EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) coming into force in December, a new survey has uncovered.

16th May 2024

Read more

Each person in the UK throws a shocking 35 items of unwanted clothes and textiles into general waste every year on average, according to a new report from WRAP.

2nd May 2024

Read more

Taxing the extraction of fossil fuels in the world’s most advanced economies could raise $720bn (£575bn) by 2030 to support vulnerable countries facing climate damages, analysis has found.

2nd May 2024

Read more

The largest-ever research initiative of its kind has been launched this week to establish a benchmark for the private sector’s contribution to the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.

2nd May 2024

Read more

Weather-related damage to homes and businesses saw insurance claims hit a record high in the UK last year following a succession of storms.

18th April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close