Hand holding battery full of energy

The Energy & Utilities career evolution: from pipes and wires, to AI and robotics

Not just cable and pipes

Think of a career in the energy and utilities industry and you may picture engineers working on an unearthed pipe in the street or specialist teams in hard hats working in a power station.

Perhaps 20 years ago those stereotypes may have rang true. And while there will always be a demand for qualified and skilled engineers fixing pipes and wires, the industry has evolved and the skilled workforce it needs has changed too.

Innovation & digitisation has arrived

The way we make, use and distribute energy, water and waste has transformed. A growing population, climate change, government policy and increasingly high customer expectations are major factors in the sector’s evolution and demand for an innovative and inclusive workforce.  

To influence this exciting future and play a role in shaping how we use our essential services for generations to come, new skilled, customer-centric and digitally-advanced talent is urgently required.  New job and career opportunities have opened up at the same time as the skills gap has widened. Over 220,000 new recruits will be needed in the sector in the next decade to fill the demand and increase workforce diversity and resilience. These new roles will play a key role in shaping the future of the sector.

Building tomorrow’s future

In the water industry, water scarcity and climate change are two of the global issues the sector is facing. Innovation is critical to unlocking the answers. Water companies now require talent with high-level science and engineering skills as they explore new technology such as smart monitoring, nanotechnology in water filtration and seawater desalination.

The waste sector is playing a key role in lowering the amount we throw away as a nation.  As the industry and economy moves to reduce, reuse and recycle model, the sector is becoming increasingly technology and science based. Companies have moved into new markets including the ‘energy from waste’ business. This shift will see a need for engineering, chemical, biological and business and commercial skillsets.

Generating reliable energy and tackling climate change are industry priorities. The last ten years has seen our power generation revolutionised with wind farms and solar panels now an everyday view. This trend is set to continue and young people with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics skills to remotely survey offshore assets are needed just as much as engineers onshore. The development and installation of smart grids, electric powered vehicles and third-generation bio-fuels will require new, well-paid roles within the industry.

Taking the right steps

As a parent, you know that deciding on the right career path is one of the most important decisions your child will make in their lifetime. The evolving energy and utilities sector offers your young person a range of careers to choose from and a career that’s secure with development opportunities. They can experiment with a variety of roles, and access the sector through apprenticeships, graduate schemes and professional roles.

Average salaries while in training for those in and energy and utilities related apprenticeships were higher than the average of all apprentices (£12,624 per year). On average, once qualified, starting salaries can begin at £18,000 to £39,500.

To find out more visit the sector’s Talent Source Network, an online platform providing high-quality career opportunities and advice across the energy and utility sector.

This article was produced by Energy & Utility Skills, a membership organisation that brings together industry leaders to identify and address workforce resilience challenges within the sector.

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