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The number of clean energy jobs has jumped globally in recent years, thanks to the booming renewables sector in China, but a looming shortage of skilled workforce could be a barrier to ramping up activity, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a new report.
The agency’s World Energy Employment report found that more people work in the energy sector today than in 2019, almost exclusively due to growth in clean energy.
The number of workers in the clean energy industries surpassed the total workforce in fossil fuels in 2021 and has continued to widen the gap since then, according to the IEA’s estimates.
Last year, global energy employment reached nearly 67 million people, growing by 3.4 million jobs over pre-pandemic levels. The clean energy sectors added 4.7 million jobs globally over the same period and stand at 35 million. Fossil fuels jobs recovered more slowly after the layoffs in 2020 and remain around 1.3 million below pre-pandemic employment levels, at 32 million.
Over the period, more than half of job growth was attributable to five sectors: solar PV, wind, electric vehicles (EVs) and battery manufacturing, heat pumps and critical minerals mining, according to the IEA. Solar PV is the largest of these sectors, employing around 4 million people. Manufacturing of EVs and their batteries was the largest source of growth, adding globally more than 1 million jobs since 2019.
Despite the surge in clean energy jobs, industries are citing skilled labor shortages as a key barrier to ramping up activity, according to a proprietary survey carried out by the IEA with 160 energy firms globally.
“The number of workers pursuing degrees or certifications relevant to energy sector jobs are not keeping pace with growing demand,” the IEA said.
Earlier this year, research and analyses showed that while the new clean energy policies in the United States are expected to create more than 9 million jobs over the next decade, and the hiring rates and job creation in clean energy are higher than the U.S. average, the skilled workforce is in short supply.
By Tsvetana Paraskova
Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.