Renewable energy firms facing talent exodus to fossil fuel sector

15th February 2023


Fossil fuel companies are enticing huge numbers of workers away from renewable energy firms with the promise of high salaries and perks, a new global study has uncovered.

After surveying 10,000 energy professionals of 149 different nationalities, the researchers found that 87% of renewables professionals would consider leaving their current role, and 51 % would move to oil and gas companies – a 14% increase on last year.

Pay was cited as the biggest driver of job dissatisfaction for 59% of these workers, followed by benefits at 50%, indicating that soaring fossil fuel salaries and perks are a major draw.

The survey also found that renewables firms are facing intensifying demand for their workforce, with 78% of green energy workers being offered a new job in the last year.

This comes as fossil fuel firms reap bumper profits from energy price rises following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The energy transition will hinge on our green skills base, yet renewables talent is increasingly restless and in demand from outside sectors,” said Janette Marx, CEO of energy recruitment consultancy Airswift, which commissioned the research.

“Fossil fuel firms are becoming more popular among renewables workers by improving their ESG performance as well as pay.”

According to the findings, North America has risen to the second choice destination for overseas workers in the wake of the Biden administration’s funding for wind power, second only to Europe, the world leader in renewable energy.

When asked what drives job satisfaction, nearly half of renewables respondents pointed to the feeling that they are contributing to society, followed by flexible working on 39%.

“Renewables workers are also the most likely to care about their employers’ values, but this now goes beyond the environment and encompasses metrics such as their contribution to society and workplace flexibility,” Marx continued

“Green energy firms will now have to compete with fossil fuel firms on a wider range of metrics from societal impact to flexibility by creating more meaningful roles with KPIs linked to social as well as environmental contributions, and by reducing fixed hours and physical deployments.”

This comes after separate research by KPMG recently found that a third of 18-24-year-old UK workers have turned down job offers from companies with ESG commitments that do not align with their values.

The accounting giant's survey of 6,000 adult office workers, students, apprentices and those who have left higher education in the past six months, found that 46% want the company they work for to demonstrate a commitment to ESG.

John McCalla-Leacy, head of ESG at KPMG in the UK, said: “For businesses the direction of travel is clear.

"By 2025, 75% of the working population will be millennials, meaning they will need to have credible plans to address ESG if they want to continue to attract and retain this growing pool of talent.”

IEMA recently launched its Green Careers Hub which will help anyone – from any sector or background – understand how they can play a role in the wider green economy.

Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

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