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World must scale up training to meet global wind power demand

The global wind industry needs to train more than 480,000 more people to Global Wind Organisation standards over the next five years to meet global wind power market demand in line with health and safety standards.

These workers need to be trained to construct, install, operate and maintain the world’s growing onshore and offshore wind fleet. The number represents only a fraction of the job opportunities available in the growing wind industry.

This is according to a new report released by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and the Global Wind Organisation in partnership with the Renewables Consulting Group.

Ed Maxwell, Principal at the Renewables Consulting Group, explained they combined historic training data, onshore and offshore installation capacity forecasts, key market insights and in-depth understanding of health and safety in the global wind industry to accurately model the future demand for GWO-trained personnel over the next five years.

The next five years is considered a critical period in the path of all sectors and markets to achieve net zero. “The model and the presented forecasts will be regularly refined as more data becomes available and as the pace of capacity growth accelerates,” said Maxwell.

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At the moment the GWO training market, considered the global standard for wind workforce training, has the capacity to support the training needs of 150,000 workers by the end of 2021. They can ramp that up to 200,000 by the end of 2022. Analysis in The Global Wind Workforce Outlook 2021-2025, however, finds the world needs at least 280,000 more trained workers to install the forecast 490GW of new wind power capacity that is supposed to come online over the next five years.

Global wind power demand needs scaling up to meet net zero targets

Ben Backwell, GWEC CEO at GWEC said the wind industry needs to scale up at an unprecedented rate over the next decade to put the world on track to meet net zero.

He said: “If ambition is scaled up to what it needs to be – three or four times current market forecasts – the workforce training requirements will be far higher than what was found in this report.

“To meet this challenge, we need to prepare now for the workforce of the future, and this means training hundreds of thousands of workers across the world to be part of one of the fastest-growing industries. But we need to ensure this workforce is trained to the highest global standards to ensure the health and safety of all.”

 Of the 480,000 GWO trained workers required worldwide, 308,000 will be deployed to construct and maintain onshore wind projects and 172,000 are needed for offshore wind.

Over 70% of the new global workforce training demand will come from the 10 markets analysed in the report, including Brazil, China, Japan, India, Mexico, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United States of America, and Vietnam. The markets analysed in the report were selected for regional diversity, as well as spanning the largest onshore wind markets globally, high-growth markets for onshore and offshore wind, and emerging wind markets.

The bigger question is who will realise the world’s net zero ambitions

Jakob Lau Holst, GWO CEO pointed out there is a lot of talk about how many gigawatts of wind power we will need to achieve net zero, but there isn’t a lot of discussion about the workforce we will need to realise the ambitions on the ground. “Hundreds of thousands of people across the world, even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, work on the turbines that power our economies and protect our planet, and it is crucial that we keep these people safe. Having GWO safety training standards is one of the most efficient ways to make sure our workforce is staying safe and that we have the people we need to accelerate the global energy transition.”

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For already large wind markets like the US and China, scaling up training capacity can provide new job opportunities and increase productivity through the recognition of GWO standards. Emerging economies will need to develop their safety and technical training networks from the ground up to ensure alignment with global safety systems to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.

Overall, there is significant untapped potential for the training and industrial education supply chain in countries across the world and organisations in scope to deliver the additional training capacity needed can develop GWO programmes now to meet this future demand.

The Global Wind Workforce Outlook 2021-2025 report is now online.

Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a Content Specialist for ESI Africa.