Education: Powering the Future of Sustainable Energy







Frank Gielen, Education Director at InnoEnergy, Europe’s innovation engine for sustainable energy.

What is the importance of life-long education in the sustainable energy sector?

The energy transition is in full force. Blink and you might miss the ‘next big thing’. It’s therefore imperative that sustainable energy companies have quality people in order to deliver innovation and remain competitive.

But, there are only so many graduates available, therefore companies should not rely solely on each new generation to drive new growth.

Instead, they should combine this hunt for the next game-changers with the constant education of their current staff. Sustainable energy companies should be asking themselves: ‘what kinds of skills will my workforce need in the future?’ And then educate their employees accordingly.

How do you think organisations within the sector should go about up-skilling their employees?

Organisations that grow using innovation don’t see training or development as a tick-box exercise. It is a key component of business strategy.

As such, it’s important that learning is holistic. It isn’t just the task of the HR department. Education must be everyone’s responsibility to promote a positive and continuous learning culture. If the next game-changers can see their education as directly connected to the strategy of the business, it will encourage their commitment to the organisation and support company growth. It’s a positive cycle of education and growth: the more motivated and engaged your employees – the stronger the growth potential. This was proven by IBM’s 2013 Smarter Workforce study, which found that 84 per cent of employees in the best performing organisations are receiving the training they need.

Companies must then think carefully about how this training is rolled out. The teacher/classroom scenario doesn’t work for every business as it often doesn’t motivate people to learn. We find that the most effective learning comes from working with peers.

That said, there isn’t always time for a collaborative approach, so we recommend blended learning as the best way to train staff. This is where companies use a mix of digital and peer-to-peer learning.

Digital and blended learning is a big priority of InnoEnergy, can you elaborate how this will help?

Digitalisation is fantastic because it offers people the chance to get basic knowledge quickly. We are seeing a major shift towards micro-learning, where individuals learn in bitesize chunks using technology as an aid. Micro-learning requires less investment of time, fits in with employees’ agendas, and promotes a better work/life balance.

Businesses can remove cost barriers by keeping learning digital and online. Micro-learning keeps the user engaged, without the additional costs associated with using tutors and third-party premises. This means that the potential for scalability is huge.

Sustainable energy companies that don’t seize the opportunity to attract game-changers and educate their workforce risk being left behind. It’s by embracing digital learning alongside peer-to-peer learning that the most innovative companies will survive and thrive through the energy transition.

Interested? Here are the upcoming courses from InnoEnergy

Blockchain in the Energy Sector: Understand how blockchain works, where the technology has come from and why it will empower energy customers like never before.

Hurry! registrations close 17 December.

Go Solar PV. This online course looks at solar PV in depth, examining its potential for today and the near future, exploring the technical challenges, and assessing the commercial opportunities.

Registrations open until 22 December

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