Meeting the needs of the clean energy transformation

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    Three scenarios about the clean energy future

    Jobs and Skills Australia has undertaken a detailed study of the workforce implications of the transition to net zero with preliminary modelling of 3 scenarios.

    Under all the scenarios, demand for employment in the sectors related to clean energy – supply, demand and enabling – will be among the sectors with the strongest employment growth in the Australian economy over the next 10 years.

    Workforce implications

    Jobs and Skills Australia has identified 38 critical occupations, mainly in trades and technical occupations, that occur across the various clean energy segments involved in developing, generating, storing, transmitting and distributing energy generated from renewable, net zero emissions sources, installing and maintaining the technology that uses clean energy rather than fossil fuels, and enabling the clean energy transition through education, training, regulation, and supply chains. Electricians and Electrical Engineers are critically important across these areas. Metal Fitters and Machinists, Industrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers and managerial occupations such as Production Managers and Construction Managers are also very important. In all the net zero scenarios, demand for these occupations will be greatest.

    Regional implications

    The preliminary modelling suggests that employment growth in regional Australia is likely to be higher than in metropolitan areas. By region, under the central scenario many regions are likely to have average annual employment growth rates close to 2% between 2023 and 2030, including Northern NSW and Southern NSW, Eastern Victoria and the Northern Territory. This growth reflects renewable energy projects and the associated construction pipelines. Some of these regions, for example Northern NSW and Eastern Victoria, also have transitioning sectors.

    Implications for the skills system

    The education and training sectors have a critical role to play, complemented by the migration system. It will be critical to stand up initiatives to increase the number of apprentices in electrical and related trades. This is a big challenge, noting that this is already an area of significant skills shortage.

    It will be necessary to substantially increase the number of completions in electrotechnology and other critical trade apprenticeships, maintain high levels of graduates across many engineering disciplines, as well as ensure we maintain university programs in several other specialist fields such a geology and metallurgy. As important is ensuring that these graduates have the attributes and sector-specific technical skills that will be needed in the clean energy sector. Ensuring there are sufficient VET instructors and teachers with relevant clean energy sector experience will also be critical.

    Stronger links between higher education and industry and the VET sector will be needed, including expanding and regularising higher apprenticeships and promoting degree apprenticeships and other combinations of the VET and higher education sectors.