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| 3 minutes read

Powering people: Innovations in HR for the energy sector

Earlier this month I attended a conference in Houston specifically focused on some of the challenges in the HR function of energy sector companies. It was a great event and what was particularly interesting and encouraging for me was that the audience was a real mix of professionals not only from the fossil-fuel industry (which is of course to be expected in Texas!), but also from the renewable energy industry.  

Texas is the leading State in the US for renewable energy production and is continuing to accelerate the transition. Recent data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that solar generation alone is likely to top coal-fired generation for the first time in 2024. The Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the flow of around 90% of electric load in the state, and EIA forecasts indicate that wind and solar generation will top natural gas as the system’s largest generation resource. With the recent announcement on Earth Day relating to the $7 billion of solar funding for residential projects in the US through the Environmental Protection Agency, the pace will only quicken! 

So how do these dynamics relate to HR strategies? The conference brought to light many of the challenges ahead.  

I was privileged to share the stage with professionals from SLB, Shell and Technip FMC to discuss some of the key topics in Talent Acquisition in a panel format. Here are just some of the points we discussed: 

It is clear the energy sector needs to work hard to remain relevant and exciting to younger generations of talent. According to the Universum list of the most attractive employers in America, no energy companies are ranked in the top 100 amongst business students and only 6 are ranked in the top 100 amongst engineering students. A lot of work needs to be done to tell the amazing stories the energy sector has to offer. Targeted and personalised employer branding strategies need to be invested in to help bring to life the massive impact a career in the energy sector can provide. 

Flexibility and scalability in what has always been a volatile market is becoming increasingly important for Talent Acquisition operating models in the energy sector. As a result, more and more organisations are moving to Recruitment Process Outsourcing models and this is confirmed by recent US research that indicates the likely compound annual growth rate for the RPO sector in the US is 19.1% through to 2031.  

Talent Acquisition technology has been a hot topic for the last decade or so, but with the rapid adoption of AI in HR processes and the increasing legislation associated with this to keep it in check, organisations will have to carefully consider their options and will need support with their technology and process decisions. The explosion of AI in our lives is astonishing (it took Instagram 2.5 years to have 100 million users and Chat GPT just 2 months) and the feeling in the room was that we must embrace the benefits that AI will inevitably bring, but guard against any bias that it might introduce into our processes. 

Internal mobility was seen as a crucial enabler of dealing with the skills gaps in the sector, and the panel agreed that it was important to understand the skills in your organisation to determine who has adjacent or transferable skills for new roles. By embracing potential over experience, fostering a culture of mobility, and treating your internal candidates as you would an external candidate you will be able to harness your internal talent much more effectively.   

Other topics covered over the 2 days we had together included using veteran programmes to increase belonging and access new talent pools, defining competitive policies to attract the best talent, and how to use wellness and health programs to support your people. 

The topic of skilling was prevalent, and it was fascinating to hear how NexTier Oilfield Solutions had used Kahuna to digitize their technical competence assurance program (a great pre-requisite to get your data and skills taxonomy in order before embarking on a skills-based hiring approach) and how Vestas were reducing attrition through effective development programs, particularly in leadership. 

The other topic at the front of everyone’s minds in the room was of course DE&I and how we all need to ensure processes remove implicit bias and approaches we take should always be focused on inclusivity. 

The key takeaway for me was that the challenges ahead for the energy sector are multiple, but with the right mindset and by adopting the right balance for the energy transition to happen quickly enough, the energy sector is a hugely exciting sector to build a career within. 

It is now crucial that we can tell this story to younger generations, whose talent we need to build a prosperous future for all.  

Interested in learning more about the future for talent in renewable energy? Check out our whitepaper: 

Or read our Catalyst article on the green skills revolution:  


ams, energy & renewables, future of work, innovation, leadership, talent acquisition, talent climate