A report by Wind Energy Ireland and Green Tech Skillnet says skills gaps can be plugged by offering relocation grants and more learning opportunities.
A report has claimed that achieving Ireland’s 2050 offshore wind energy targets could be worth up to €38bn for the nation’s economy. However, the very large figure is for now only a projection that depends on the country’s ability to access skilled labour.
The report is up for discussion at Wind Energy Ireland’s annual conference, which is being held in Dublin today and tomorrow (30 and 31 January). The 700 or so delegates who will attend this year’s c onference will consider the findings of the report that Wind Energy Ireland compiled in conjunction with Green Tech Skillnet.
As previous reports and statements from various climate lobby groups, including Wind Energy Ireland, have asserted, Ireland lacks skilled people to work on climate innovation projects.
Last October, stakeholders operating in the wind industry set up an online website designed to attract people to careers in wind. Around the same time, Energy Storage Ireland called for more investment in energy storage on the back of a report that claimed the sector could potentially create between 2,000 and 5,000 new jobs by 2035.
Potential waste due to lack of talent
In 2024, it’s the same story: skills shortages are one of the main threats to our ability to implement climate action. The target is 37GW of offshore wind energy by 2050.
“This report identifies, in granular detail, the skills we need over the next two decades to transform our workforce to build not just Ireland’s offshore wind energy future but to compete internationally,” said Noel Cunniffe, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland.
“If Government and industry can work together to identify and invest in the right training initiatives, coordinate the work already underway in Education and Training Boards and third-level institutions, and support Irish SMEs looking to get into the sector, then there is no limit to what we are capable of.”
Cunniffe has previously criticised the Government over its climate plans’ impacts on the wind sector.
Green skills a ‘top priority’
Commenting on today’s report, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD said that developing green skills and jobs has become a “top priority” of his department.
“This report clearly demonstrates the significant economic and social benefits to communities across Ireland, particularly in the shape of new job opportunities.
“This will shape my department’s work and ambition with stakeholders across government, the public sector, the tertiary education sector and industry, as we look to build the skills we need to deliver a greener, more sustainable future,” he said.
The report made a number of recommendations for policymakers to pay attention to. Firstly, it recommended the establishment of a skills development fund for targeted investment in private-public training partnerships and third-level investment.
It also recommended that efforts be made to attract workers to plug short-term skills shortages through initiatives such as relocation grants. Connections with other relevant industries like engineering and marine science should also be pursued to boost innovation, the authors said.
Lastly, policymakers need to ensure that offshore wind skills and knowledge are covered in public education and also by private training providers so more people can participate in the offshore wind energy’s future development.
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