The energy transition – what future skills will be required to make it a reality?

Fatou Diagne, Head of HR at Aggreko Africa

Organisations that are prioritising transitioning to more environmentally friendly energy solutions will require a well-defined strategy, which requires an in-depth understanding of what future needs will arise. This then needs to be translated into a skills matrix based on new emerging technologies. According to Fatou Diagne, Head of HR at Aggreko Africa, this will require everyone from sales to the technical and engineering teams to understand those new emerging technologies intimately.

“Our customers want to engage with individuals who understand their concerns and challenges, and who can then tailor solutions for those. The commercial environment is also changing and the whole organisation needs to adapt from a technical, safety, financial and commercial output perspective. This is an industry-wide challenge as the focus shifts away from the products and solutions and more towards what the customer wants and needs.” She adds that health, safety and environmental (HSE) issues are also increasing in importance throughout this energy transition and will form a key focus area in Aggreko’s recently launched graduate programme.

Samuel Tuma, Head of Engineering at Aggreko Africa agrees. “The energy transition requires skills outside of those of traditional engineers or power system engineers. We are working with our team to ensure that they develop an understanding of the costs outside of the traditional financial part of it.” He adds that going forward five core skills will be required. “Those skills are the economic modelling of the power system, network studies and modelling to understand the impact of renewable integration into traditional conventional power systems, control system specialists, microgrid specialists, and engineering system modelling skills, which requires an understanding of how best to integrate renewables from a technical perspective.”

Tumma adds that while remote learning has paved the way to learn these skills from any environment, corporates also have a role to play. “Universities in the UK, Australia and even in Africa have developed remote learning solutions that allow individuals to continually grow their skills as new technologies emerge, without disrupting their careers. This enables ongoing learning and development, which will be crucial as part of the energy transition.” He adds that while there is a multitude of engineering specific learning solutions, success in renewable energy will also require an understanding of the local regulatory and legal environment, which is specific to the country in which you operate. “If you consider the vast differences between the different countries in Africa, for example, this requires an in-depth knowledge of each of their specific requirements. At Aggreko, we therefore not only encourage and support formal learning initiatives but also on-the-job training to ensure that our engineers are well balanced and versed in all aspects of renewable energy.”

Diagne believes that organisations such as Aggreko have an important role to play in ensuring the right skills are in place for the energy transition. “While they can learn the technical skills they require from universities, it is through on-the-job experience that they will learn the intricate details of what future solutions will require to equip themselves for the business world. Here graduation programmes such as ours will play a key role in ensuring that the industry is developing the right skills and resources to meet future needs. Industries across the board are changing and the sky is the limit for young people that are willing to learn these new skills and concepts. The graduates coming into this programme will come with fresh ideas and concepts and will ultimately shape our thoughts and strategies around renewables. In effect, they will own the strategy, because they are integral in shaping it. This will, in turn, impact the entire value chain – it is not just from a technical perspective, but sales, marketing, operations, and finance as well.”

Tumma concludes that the transition to renewable energy will require a well-rounded approach to ongoing learning. “While individuals are responsible for their ongoing learning, organisations will also have a critical role to play in sketching the roadmap of which skills are and will be required and supporting individuals in developing those skills to become successful players in the renewable energy market. And, of course, we must continuously be ahead of the curve as new technologies emerge, to ensure that we can evolve to include those in our solutions as client needs change.”

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