Energy officials from the APEC economies are working with the business community to improve human resource development and resolve skill gaps that can affect the sector’s employment and growth potential.
The focus of the newly launched APEC Energy Workforce Resilience initiative is to build talent pools equipped to meet the changing technological, operational and management needs of energy producers, from fossil fuels to renewable energy, according to a press release issued by the APEC energy working group on Tuesday.
The emphasis is on strengthening public outreach, training and incentives to lower recruitment and retention barriers, it says.
Initiated following discussions between energy officials in Singapore and overseen by the Energy Market Authority, it complements work being done parallelly by education and labour officials this week in Hà Nội to support more competitive and productive labour 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 working group, which looks into regional policy collaboration within the sector.
“The APEC is establishing an open line of communication with energy producers and communities to ensure labour-employer synergy in the evolving landscape,” said Chern, who is also the chief of energy affairs in 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 where people are needed, but which typically require advanced degrees and technical acumen. Attention is being paid on strategic and tactical intelligence-sharing and alignment of activities to draw out competent, technologically literate and diverse talent to perform them, the press release said.
The APEC is co-ordinating on this with partners, ranging from large conglomerates such as Osaka Gas and Thailand’s PPT Public Company to emerging solar businesses such as Sunseap Group in Singapore.
Activities include early science and technology education, student competitions and scholarships, internships and career roadshows to build the aptitude and interest of youngsters, especially women, whose representation is limited in the energy sector. Other activities include continuous learning and family support programmes to help retain talent.
“Personnel mismatches in the energy sector are exacerbated by stigmas that close off large chunks of the labour market to it,” said Chern. “There is the dual problem of experienced workers who must adjust to advancements such as smart energy grids and storage, and those who simply are not interested in joining the field in the first place.”
“Sharing how to effectively find and cultivate personnel who can keep pace with innovation is an important step towards realising greater energy security and economic opportunity for people in the region,” Chern said.