At the start of my working life, I wasn’t aware that careers in energy existed.
Despite studying sciences and maths – and having a keen interest in the wider world – energy or sustainability were never highlighted as possible areas of professional interest.
In today’s world, thanks to the likes of David Attenborough and movements such as Extinction Rebellion, issues surrounding sustainability, energy and the environment have a much higher profile.
More and more people are waking up to the need to take action to preserve our planet.
However, there is often a sense of overwhelm about the challenges we need to overcome. Energy is also regularly portrayed in a very negative light.
But with a net zero carbon emissions goal to deliver by 2050, the industry has never needed to attract more talent and fresh ideas than now.
As energy practitioners, we have a duty to change the perception of our industry and create that pipeline of new recruits.
Energy is all around us. Virtually every single thing we do is only possible because of the energy that’s powering it. It’s not just oil and gas rigs, smart meters and rising prices. Energy powers our world. And that’s sexy.
In 30 years time, those of us that have the experience will be reaching retirement. So encouraging rising young stars is imperative.
As Einstein is often credited with saying, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
So what can we do?
- Share what you do
Accept invitations to talk to school children, go out into your community and tell people about how you save energy, reduce carbon emissions and make your business more sustainable. Celebrate your successes and that of your team with your wider workforce. Don’t be afraid to be enthusiastic and inspire others.
- Highlight educational opportunities
When I was studying, there were only a small handful of universities offering degrees in energy-related subjects. Today, I see there are 88 different energy and sustainability masters courses offered at UK universities, with many more at degree level. So for any young person with an interest, highlight these routes into the industry – and also the new Junior Energy Manager apprenticeships that companies can now offer.
- Never stop learning
As soon as we leave education, we tend to ditch structured learning and put our development in the hands of our employers. But while experience can speak volumes, keeping abreast of academic and industry advancements is also key. It was important for me to continue professional development, which I did through courses at the Energy Institute. So, look around to keep abreast with key developments and best practice.
- Mentor the next generation
Use your skills, knowledge and experience to help others develop and unlock their potential. If you’re unsure how to do this, get some mentoring yourself. Both parties can often gain a different perspective that can be rewarding and generate inspiration to achieve more.
- Shine a light on others
I’ve been lucky to have had plenty of recognition for the things I’ve achieved professionally, so I’m keen for others to also experience this. With recognition comes confidence, motivation to be more and to do more and it’s a validation of your achievements. So put colleagues forward for awards, company rewards – or just a simple thank you in front of peers and colleagues.
Younger people simply don’t realise the energy industry is crying out for creative and charismatic leaders.
It is a sector in need of innovation and by joining the industry, it’s possible to make a positive difference to the world we live in for generations to come.