Record numbers employed in renewable energy while more firms expected to hire, says survey

Out-Law News | 15 Jan 2014 | 10:16 am | 1 min. read

A record number of people are now employed by the Scottish renewable energy sector, while more than half of employers will be looking for even more staff this year, according to a survey of more than 540 companies.

 

The research, commissioned by industry body Scottish Renewables (12-page / 372KB PDF), found that there had been a 5% increase over 2013 in the number of people in full-time employment in the sector. This is a higher growth rate than that for Scottish employment as a whole, amounting to 11,695 jobs, Scottish Renewables said.

"These latest figures show the renewable industry has seen steady growth in the number of people employed despite an uncertain year," said Joss Blamire, senior policy manager for Scottish Renewables. "The breadth of job opportunities for project managers, ecologists and engineers has led to a wide range of people seeing renewable energy as a sector where they can use their skills and training."

"Renewables is proving it can be a significant contributor to many local economies throughout the country with emerging sectors such as offshore wind and marine energy already playing their part in creating much-needed job opportunities. Not only are more people employed in renewables than ever before, but there is a huge amount of positivity about the future with a majority of companies looking to expand their operations and take on more employees," he said.

However, Blamire warned against "complacency" in relation to the findings of the survey, which also highlighted areas of industry concern that could act as barriers to future growth in the sector. These included market reform, changes to planning policy and issues in relation to connecting projects to the grid, he said.

"As the New Year gets underway, the renewable energy sector in Scotland will be looking at how it can overcome these barriers to secure even more jobs and further investment, as well as reduce emissions from our energy sector over the next 12 months," he said.

The majority of jobs in the renewables sector in Scotland in 2013 were located in Glasgow, the Lothians, Highlands and Islands and the North East, according to the research. Onshore wind employed 39% of those surveyed, with particular concentrations in the South of Scotland, Glasgow, Lothian and the Highlands; while offshore wind employed 21% of those surveyed, particularly in the North East. The marine and bioenergy subsectors both accounted for 9% of those employed.

Of the companies surveyed, 54% said that they would be looking to employ even more staff in the next 12 months while a further 42% said that their employment levels would stay the same. The results indicated an average increase of over nine people per organisation across 253 organisations that provided details of their expansion or contraction plans, which the researchers described as a "very powerful finding".