Sector News

Developing talent strategies for the energy transition

February 4, 2023

Navigating the energy transition will be a generational challenge, requiring top-tier talent to solve incredibly complex problems. Meeting this challenge will require retaining and reskilling today’s workers, while integrating new people with varied backgrounds and capabilities. Leaders will need to invest in creating inclusive organizations where everyone feels like a valued contributor with a shared purpose.

Generations of talented individuals have pursued careers in energy because it offered opportunities for learning, teamwork, and impact in the service of powering our communities. This will be as true in the future as it was in the past. Looking backward, the talent that made the difference was concentrated in engineering and operational disciplines. But as the energy transition expands the range of business activities that energy companies pursue, that talent base is expanding and diversifying. Engineering proficiency is no less critical to success, but companies also need to integrate expertise in new areas such as product development, human-centered design, and regulatory affairs.

Talent strategy is becoming an existential priority in the energy sector. This is the result of several pressures challenging the ability to find, hire, and retain talent: a wave of retiring professionals, demand for new roles to build out new businesses, and a talent drain from the energy sector to technology, to name a few. To address these gaps, companies are rethinking how and where to expand the funnel for potential new hires, while also innovating and experimenting with new strategies to retain and reskill the workforce that keeps their current businesses running. Power utilities, for example, will need new teams to build out wind farms and battery arrays, but will also continue to require teams that can keep thermal plants running.

This isn’t the first time that the energy industry had to adapt its workforce to major changes in technology, regulation, and economics. Establishing the business models that built the modern energy landscape and building the infrastructure that delivers energy at a massive scale to power the global economy required a broad range of talent.

In more recent decades, however, as many companies’ strategies focused on incremental growth and continuous improvement, the workforce evolved to be more geared to deliver operational excellence and prudent capital management, rather than building disruptive and innovative new businesses. In the decade ahead, both are priorities.

As economies confront the need to reduce carbon emissions, the energy workforce is once again transforming. Energy companies must design employee value propositions that invite and appeal to the new talent needed for new capabilities and businesses, without threatening or alienating their current workforce.

Winning new talent with diverse new perspectives
Energy companies know they need to attract employees with new skills and capabilities, often from more diverse demographics than the current workforce. Some of this talent will need to be won over from the technology, finance, and public sectors, and they’ll bring new perspectives on teaming, compensation, and location (including remote options). Like current employees, they want to feel included in the companies they work for, and they want to know they’re experiencing an equitable talent journey, no matter their role. But in our interviews over the past year with the people that energy companies are trying to win over, many are skeptical of the motives of the industry, and doubtful of their ability to succeed in incumbent energy companies. Senior managers will need to find ways to reassure these new workers that they’re an essential part of the team, valued for their unique capabilities and perspectives.

However, in going for this new cohort, energy companies find themselves in a challenging starting position. In addition to weak representation of diverse talent, the industry lags on overall measures of inclusivity (see Figure 1). READ MORE

By Brenen Blair, Anders Bruhn, and Emily Emmett


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