Case Study – Energy and Utility Skills
Foresight research is the critical first step to EU Skills and The National Skills Academy Power (NSAP) meeting the skills needs of the power industry of the future. Both already undertake forecasting work, primarily through the Workforce Planning Model but there was a need for further research to describe the skills landscape of the power industry of the future and how it might need to respond given certain scenarios.
A short foresight research project was proposed, covering the activities of the four NSAP Sector Networks:
- Combustion Generation Network;
- Transmission & Distribution Network;
- Renewable Network;
- Metering Network;
The overall aim of the project was to identify the potential skills challenges of the UK’s power industry in 2025 and 2050. SAMI used the global and UK economic, political and social drivers derived in previous skills foresight projects as background. It then undertook horizon scanning on particular issues relating to the power industry and conducted interviews with sector leaders.
In total, twenty one socio-economic drivers and twenty technical drivers were selected from the overall list of industry drivers as being likely to have the greatest potential impact on the long-term skill requirements of the industry. The relative importance and implications of these short-listed key drivers were then analysed further in a one-day workshop attended by a cross-section of industry participants.
Key uncertainties included:
- future levels of power demand;
- availability of global resources;
- government policy, regulation and pricing;
- industry structure and competition;
- issues of sustainability and climate change.
Key technological drivers included:
- smart meters and grids;
- small scale local generation and networks;
- power storage;
- wind energy;
- nuclear power generation;
- carbon capture and storage, and clean coal;
- electric vehicles.
The key findings included:
- The power industry is facing a period of particularly high uncertainty and many of the future skills needs will depend on how the key drivers play out.
- There are a number of drivers of change external to the industry that could have important longer term implications. The international trade environment and the associated access to global resources is an area of high impact and uncertainty and one for which the UK power industry needs to be very well prepared.
- With respect to the technical drivers, power storage emerged as an area of particularly high potential impact and uncertainty and one for which the power industry needs to prepare. Storage and small-scale local generation and local networks have the potential to fundamentally change the structure of the UK power sector.