Energy and utility bosses in the UK have highlighted a growing skills and recruitment gap in their sector, which they warn will have a 208,000 employee deficit in the next decade unless swift action is taken.

At the Energy & Utility Skills Conference in London yesterday, companies including National Grid and Scottish Power stressed how collaboration is vital in developing skills frameworks, training programmes and apprenticeship opportunities to guarantee the future of the UK’s renewable, nuclear power, gas, water and waste management industries.

Neil Robertson, chief executive of Energy & Utility Skills, told the conference:  “Over the next ten years the UK will spend £100bn [$161bn] on its utilities infrastructure, but currently, the sector’s lack of future-proof skills and ageing workforce will leave it requiring 208,000 new recruits by 2023. This huge imbalance needs to be redressed.”

However he stressed that the industry was “starting to tackle this problem”.

“Through training, we are offering employees professional development opportunities, while equipping workforces with the skills to innovate new energy solutions, to aid our transition into a low carbon economy. 

“And with better recruitment strategies and more apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities, we can channel new talent into a career in the sector. Our commitment will run from school age through to university graduates, fostering an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects that will build the foundations for a strong, UK-sourced future energy and utilities workforce we so desperately need.”