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UK Energy Sector – Skills for a Thriving Future

ISG's Rick Gray, Sector Lead - Energy, explores how the UK's energy sector will undergo a remarkable transformation in the next few years.

The United Kingdom's energy sector will undergo a remarkable transformation in the next few years, with a relentless focus on sustainability, efficiency, and security. As we seek to achieve ambitious targets for carbon neutrality and renewable energy generation, the energy sector's growth is set to continue at an unprecedented pace.

There is so much happening across nuclear new build, small modular reactors, fusion research, renewables, the North Sea transition, interconnectors, the Great British Grid upgrade, CCUS, energy storage and the hydrogen economy are all moves that will help us to create a responsible low carbon energy mix. Renewables will have to scale up to 3.0GW of new capacity each year, solar installations need to increase to 4.7GW per year, and the required 8GW of new nuclear is a massive challenge according to the Committee of Climate Change.

Skills shortage | ISG

Construction: the great overlooked tool in our strategic workforce planning

ISG’s latest Wide Angle, ‘Rethinking the skills conundrum’, seeks to connect the dots between people, place and productivity. 

This expansion creates numerous challenges and opportunities, particularly in terms of the skills required to plan, implement, and sustain these developments. The exact size of the energy market is hard to understand but it seems widely accepted that the scale and pace of development will have a profound impact on the skills needed to deliver nationally significant infrastructure.

What can we do to address this issue?  In the ISG report ‘Rethinking the skills conundrum’ we explored the options to implement strategic workforce planning and resolving skills shortages. We recently met with representatives from across the built environment at the London Science Museum to explore potential solutions (thanks Hydrock and i3NetZero for supporting). 

Discussions highlighted that as the energy sector evolves rapidly, the workforce must adapt accordingly. Continuous reskilling and lifelong learning will be essential for professionals to stay relevant in a changing job market. Government and industry initiatives should focus on providing accessible training programs and upskilling opportunities to bridge the skills gap.

Meeting the demands of this sector will also require a diverse and highly skilled workforce. Engineers, technicians, data analysts, and professionals in various specialised fields will play vital roles in shaping the future of the UK's energy landscape. To ensure success, ongoing investments in education, training, apprenticeships and reskilling programs are essential, ensuring that the workforce is prepared to deliver the sustainable energy developments of the future.

There’s also a need for the sector to consider the workforce constraints on the timing construction delivery. Organisations like Great British Nuclear must surely be able to play a part in considering when programmes can be efficiently delivered in a coordinated way with other commitments in National Infrastructure Plans.

The digital revolution must meet the needs of delivery professionals.  We must find ways to reduce the resource burden by engaging with advanced technologies such as AI but in a meaningful way.  I’ve been massively impressed by some recent developments that allow our ISG teams to work more efficiently and focus on what’s important to deliver the job.

Skills shortages are not new, we've always wrestled with them in UK Construction. But we do need fresh thinking and long term strategies to develop early careers and align with the needs of growing sectors like Energy. 

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