Mind the Gaps: How will a consumer-centric energy system affect organisational structures, sector skills and careers in energy?

Peter Stewart, Interfax

The proposed dialogue session will discuss the impact of the transition to a consumer-centric on organisational structures, career paths and sector skills in energy. Attracting women and younger people to the industry will be essential to avoid the risk of skills gaps.

Relevance of the Dialogue Session to the Conference Theme

The architecture of the energy system is evolving rapidly from traditional centralised supply-centric systems dominated by multinational corporations to multiple smaller-scale, distributed, interlocked systems, increasingly driven by Big data and automation, in which the consumer is king. New technologies such as blockchain and automation will further transform a landscape that over the last decade has been altered beyond recognition by renewable energy and energy storage technologies.

What is the future of work in such an energy system, and how will companies and careers change as the energy landscape evolves? How can the sector be made more attractive to women and young people? If skills gaps emerge, where will they be felt most keenly, and what can be done to fill them?

A recent research briefing by the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology noted that: “Within the workforce there are growing skills shortages, in part due to global competition for skilled workers and low uptake of energy industry jobs among young people”. The briefing highlighted the risk of the ageing of the energy sector workforce if younger people are not incentivised to join the industry.

We propose this dialogue session to explore the skills needed by companies to meet the energy challenges of the future, how employees will interact with technologies serving the global energy system and how companies will have to transform themselves to meet the challenges ahead.

The trend towards a more consumer-focussed energy system has profound implications for the skills needed by the industry. While new technologies are expected to lead to disruptive change, however, there is a strong likelihood that conventional fossil fuels will continue to play a part in the energy mix until 2030 and probably beyond. Through this dialogue session, we seek to understand how the new and traditional energy systems will interact, and what that will mean for organisational structures, skills and employment trends in the future.

Who will be interested in the dialogue session?

The dialogue session should attract students, academics, industry leaders, policy makers and energy sector strategists.

It will be valuable for industry leaders seeking to attract the most talented individuals to their organisation; government officials aiming to cultivate relevant skills in the workforce through education and training; as well as students and academics who are at the cutting edge of thought-leadership in the energy sector. The discussion will be focussed on challenges faced by the global energy sector, not just the UK.

The co-existence of old and new energy has already led large electricity suppliers such as E.On and RWE to split their business into two parts. As the biggest oil and gas majors increasingly target new energy in their portfolios, organisational structure and human capital have become hot topics going far beyond the HR function.

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