Energy officials from APEC member economies are teaming up with the business community to improve human resource development within the sector, intent on tackling emerging skills gaps that threaten to undermine its employment and growth-boosting potential.
Building talent pools equipped to meet changing technological, operational and management needs of energy producers – from fossil fuels to renewables – is the focus of a newly launched APEC Energy Workforce Resilience initiative. Emphasis is on strengthening public outreach, training and incentives to lower recruitment and retention barriers.
Initiated during consultations between energy officials in Singapore and overseen by its Energy Market Authority, it complements parallel work by education and labor officials this week in Ha Noi to support more competitive and productive labor forces in the region in the digital era.
“How we find, access and consume energy is changing due to technology, environmental and security concerns, and swings in demand--regardless of whether you’re talking about oil, gas, wind, solar or some other source,” said Dr Jyuung-Shiauu Chern, Lead Shepherd of the APEC Energy Working Group, which administers regional policy collaboration within the sector.
“APEC is establishing an open line of communication with energy producers and communities to ensure labor-employer synergy in the evolving landscape,” explained Dr Chern, who is also Chief of Energy Affairs at Chinese Taipei’s Energy Bureau. “This is about safeguarding the people and energy markets that are the lifeblood of our economies.”
Chemists, industrial and petroleum engineers, gas and wind turbine service technicians, solar PV installers, and power plant operators are among the many positions of need but which typically require advanced degrees and technical acumen.
Attention is on strategic and tactical intelligence-sharing and alignment of activities to draw out competent, technologically literate and diverse talent to perform them. APEC is coordinating on this with partners ranging from large conglomerates like Osaka Gas and Thailand’s PPT Public Company, to emerging solar business Sunseap Group in Singapore.
Examples include early science and technology education, student competitions, and scholarships, internships and career roadshows to build the aptitude and interest of young people and women whose representation is often limited among energy employees. They also include management, continuous learning and family support programs to help retain talent.
“Personnel mismatches in the energy sector are exacerbated by stigmas closing off large chunks of the labor market to it,” noted Dr Chern. “There is the dual problem of experienced workers who must adjust to advancements such as smart energy grids and storage as well as those who simply aren’t interested in joining the field in the first place.”
“Sharing with one another how to effectively find and cultivate personnel that can keep pace with innovation is an important step towards realizing greater energy security and economic opportunity for people across the region,” he concluded.