Yorkshire and the Humber, an illustrious region in the United Kingdom has been a vibrant contributor to the country’s industrial tapestry for centuries. In this piece, we delve into the traditional skills that have been the cornerstone of the region’s growth, the key engineering and manufacturing employers, and how the region plans to reinvent itself for the renewable energy era.
Traditionally, Yorkshire and the Humber have been known for the coal mining, steel production, and textile manufacturing industries. During the Industrial Revolution, the region’s coal mines and steel mills thrived, laying the foundation for a strong skills base in metallurgy, engineering, and craftsmanship. Alongside this, the textile mills in West Yorkshire developed a workforce skilled in spinning, weaving, and dyeing. Companies such as Tata Steel Europe, Forgemasters, and Croda have been key employers in the region.
As we move forward into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Yorkshire and the Humber have eagerly embraced the transition towards renewable energy, with a particular focus on offshore wind power. The region’s coastlines along the North Sea offer a highly conducive environment for the establishment of offshore wind farms. Notable examples include Siemens Gamesa’s factory in Hull and Ørsted’s East Coast Hub in Grimsby, both of which have transformed the region into a thriving hub for offshore wind energy. This shift towards renewable sources marks a significant milestone in the region’s journey towards a sustainable future.
In our exploration, we delved into Job Posting Analytics data, examining the demand for renewable-related job roles in Yorkshire and the Humber. Through detailed keyword searches across job postings, we uncovered some interesting insights. From the data, it is evident that job roles in the renewable sector are witnessing a remarkable surge in demand, with the latest data from May 2023 revealing the highest level of demand in a single month since 2018.
Fig 1: Demand for renewable-related job roles in the Yorkshire and Humberside engineering sector
Among the sought-after positions in the region, a blend of traditional engineering roles and renewable-focused positions emerged as the most in-demand. Mechanical Design Engineers, Maintenance Engineers, and Electrical Engineers, with their deep-rooted expertise honed through years of experience in traditional engineering, continue to be highly sought after, illustrating the enduring and transferable value of the engineering prowess that Yorkshire and the Humber has been celebrated for generations.
Alongside these established roles, newer avenues have opened in the renewable domain, such as Sustainability Managers, Renewable Energy Engineers, and Carbon Analysts. This harmonious interplay between traditional engineering skills and emerging renewable technologies is fostering an industrial metamorphosis in the region. The foundations built on conventional engineering are proving to be instrumental in navigating the complexities and challenges in the renewables sector. This transition reflects not only the adaptability but also the enduring relevance of the engineering skills that have historically defined Yorkshire and the Humber, as the region charts its course into a sustainable future.
Fig 2: Top job roles in-demand
To comprehensively assess the changing landscape of renewable roles, Enginuity’s skills experts examined a sample of four positions over a five-year period. Encouragingly, all these roles experienced substantial growth in demand within Yorkshire and the Humber, further affirming the region’s prominence in the renewable energy sector.
Fig 3: Select roles unique postings
While traditional skills such as mechanical and electrical engineering are still crucial, the renewable energy sector demands additional competencies. These include skills in aerodynamics, composite materials, robotics, remote sensing, and data analytics.
As Yorkshire and the Humber embraces the transition from traditional sectors like steel to renewable energy, there is a pressing need to transition workers and adapt the existing skills system. To address this challenge, T Levels and apprenticeships play a vital role to attract new talent. T Levels offer technical courses that establish a foundation in renewable energy technologies, while apprenticeships provide hands-on experience crucial for those shifting from traditional industries to renewables.
To cultivate the high-skilled workforce necessary for research and development in the renewable sector, universities in the region, such as the University of Sheffield and the University of Hull, have introduced specialised degree programs focused on renewable energy and sustainability.
Fig 4: Word cloud showing key skills demands
Upskilling today’s manufacturing workforce is vital yet challenging. While traditional skills like welding, electrical work, and metal fabrication remain essential, new capabilities are equally important for workers to thrive amid industry transformation. As a charity, Enginuity has developed a powerful solution to support employers with the up and reskilling of their workforce through its purpose-built Skills Framework.
The skills framework empowers users to identify transferable skills, pinpoint skills gaps by comparing roles, determine high-demand roles, and explore the wide range of engineering and manufacturing careers and job profiles.
By leveraging the rich data and analysis provided by Enginuity, employers in the renewable sector can gain a deep understanding of the specific skills they require and can effectively prepare their workforce for the challenges ahead.
As Yorkshire and the Humber navigate the transition to a renewable energy-focused economy, it is vital to both preserve and evolve the region’s skills base. The integration of T Levels, apprenticeships, and specialised degree programs will be instrumental in this transition. Equally important is the commitment from employers to invest in upskilling their workforce, ensuring that the region remains at the forefront of the UK’s industrial and energy production landscape.
This content was produced in partnership with the skills body Enginuity. a charity dedicated to helping employers find new ways to close the skills gap. Enginuity combines a unique approach to sector data with a deep understanding of the skills challenges, to help employers ensure the sector has a highly skilled, globally competitive workforce now and in the future.