The race for talent in the hydrogen sector – post COVID-19

By Josh Smith

As we’re seeing economies scramble for a ‘green recovery’ post Covid-19, hydrogen technology is rapidly becoming a key player not only to reach climate neutral goals, but to help create jobs, boost the economy and help revive industry.

In the EU’s Hydrogen Strategy, the technology is deemed the ‘missing piece of the puzzle’ to reach a deeper decarbonisation. But, with the rapid increase in interest, investment, and project development, all within the hydrogen sector, what does this mean for talent in the industry?

The exec search and senior appointments recruitment team here at Gibson Watts have been building deep global networks in the H2 space.  We are beginning to see a high demand for applicants that have scientific and engineering backgrounds with an exposure to hydrogen and fuel cells. However, unfortunately for clients, that pool of candidates is not endless. There are only a finite number with this experience. Up until recently, when people thought of careers within renewable energy, it was all about turbines and solar panels. There is a lack of experienced people in the hydrogen market compared to requirements, due to the rapid scale at which demand is growing.

As the diagram indicates, the current capacity of megawatts from cumulative installed electrolyser projects is set for huge growth between now and 2025.

As businesses are starting to build out their teams to meet the demand of increasing hydrogen project numbers, they need to look at how they can be more inventive to attract this limited supply of candidates.

How can clients attract the right candidates in the hydrogen sector?

Be more inventive and creative in building teams

Currently, we’re working with a client who is insisting on a team of hydrogen experts to be based in the Midlands, UK. So, these people with the right skills need to be identified within that location. In contrast, we are working with another company who are based in the EU and willing to have a virtual team working from anywhere in the world. By widening this search for talent and allowing for a remote only workforce, many benefits arise both to the client and the candidate.

Consider a wider pool of candidates

Using a broad-brush search of hydrogen experts on LinkedIn, it reveals there are around 2,000 with hydrogen in their job title globally. But if this location is narrowed to say, Birmingham, UK we get two (correct as of January 2021).

If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that most teams and businesses can be managed successfully in the absence of an office. This means the geographic location of a team becomes for most parts, irrelevant.

For employers, this considerably widens the scope of potential employees. When the distance of a commute is no longer a key factor in a job, it is possible to gain access to a wider variety of candidates which means increased choice when it comes to skills set.

The EU and China for example, currently lead in the technology and scale of hydrogen. Having access to global candidates can provide substantial advantage in increasing innovation and scale of projects.

Identifying and investing in innovative technologies to improve communications

As discussed above, remote working can bring several benefits to companies. There are tools available that enable effective and efficient communication and project planning. These include Teams, Asana, and Trello to name a few. By making an investment in these technologies, however long the distance between your teams is, communication can still be done effectively.

What is the future of the hydrogen industry looking like?

The current number of businesses building teams and launching projects within the hydrogen technology space is growing exponentially.

Hiring employees from abroad might seem like a considerably arduous and costly task, but with an experienced PEO, employee mobilisation can be done quickly and easily.

Speak to a member of our team today to find out more about hiring the right talent, building your team or hiring from or abroad (and yes, we also do PEO).

Written by Josh Smith

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