There’s no doubt that the energy industry is currently going through unprecedented changes that will benefit businesses and jobs alike – with thousands of new roles likely to be created over the next few years. It’s a sector that offers bountiful career opportunities, but does it require you to completely retrain in a different discipline if you choose to move from one area to another?
If you have STEM experience, perhaps not.
Those with a STEM-related degree or equivalent work experience often find that their skills can be transferred across the industry. If you already have experience in one energy discipline, then the chances are you could apply those skills to a completely different discipline.
Traditional skills are transferable to renewable energy projects
As a case in point, back in 2016, it was estimated that roughly 250,000 workers across the world were laid off from the oil and gas industry due to fluctuations in oil prices. Fortunately, many new positions in renewables opened up due to increasing interest in sustainable energy projects. As many of these oil and gas operators possessed foundational knowledge in STEM fields, it made transferring those skills surprisingly easy.
The reason for this is simple; projects are often self-contained and require training and experience regardless of the candidate’s experience.
Graduates don’t obtain a degree in specific energy fields. Instead, disciplines are usually categorised as mechanical, electrical, civil, agricultural, computer, and so on. Once a new prospect is hired into a company, their individual processes and requirements will be completely different from other companies.
The basic principles of engineering and physics don’t change, the only variable is what the industry itself requires. Working within oil and gas is fundamentally different from renewable energy industries, but the physics are the same. If you possess the relevant STEM experience, then you can transfer that knowledge to many different fields.
Soft skills can also be transferred
Energy companies look for a variety of different skills in addition to STEM experience and knowledge. A candidate that has previously worked in the oil and gas industry is likely to be put on a shortlist for a renewable energy position, but they can stand out as a better candidate if they have soft skills that can also be applied to the new position.
Communication is an important attribute in virtually any job. Having excellent communication skills can make you stand out as a potential candidate for a project management role or other promotions. Communication also helps foster teamwork and a positive company culture, both of which play a key role in the overall productivity of a company.
Energy companies typically need to process vast amounts of information to make informed decisions. Analytical skills will show that you’re able to investigate problems, use data to detect patterns, observe changes, and then use that knowledge to create unique and efficient solutions.
A methodical approach to research shows that you have analytical skills. The context itself isn’t important, but rather the method you use to analyse large sets of data. Analytical attributes can involve communication skills (such as actively listening to other staff, oral communication, or conducting presentations) but it can also involve creative skills such as brainstorming, restructuring and predictive modelling.
Demonstrating problem-solving skills is also incredibly useful if you’re looking to progress your career in the energy industry. Whereas analytical skills focus on identifying an issue and organising data into a readable format, problem-solving skills show that you can use that data in creative ways to create solutions to problems.
In many ways, analytical and problem-solving skills are linked as they rely on each other. Analytical skills pave the way towards finding a solution to a problem, and problem-solving is more effective when you have access to organised sets of data that are relevant to finding a solution. However, problem-solving can also require you to take the initiative in order to create innovative and creative solutions that were previously not considered.
Problem-solving also requires a certain level of resilience. Solutions may not work the first time around, hence the importance of being persistent yet maintaining a methodical and analytical approach to solving the issue.
Leadership and teamwork
Your leadership and teamwork skills will have a direct impact on your ability to reach your goals and effectively delegate tasks.
As a leader, you’ll be focusing on providing a clear vision for the team. This will help ensure that everyone is working towards the same end goal and will be using the same processes to reach your target. Demonstrating that you are able to identify an individual’s strengths and weaknesses and use them to benefit the business will stand you in good stead with a potential employer no matter what discipline you’re moving across to.
STEM experience is one of the most important transferable skills to have when moving from one energy specialism to another. STEM skills are critical in encouraging innovation and advancing ahead of the curve in knowledge-intensive economies such as the energy industry. However, soft skills can also play a huge role.
Whether it’s related to communication, leadership, teamwork or problem-solving, soft skills are highly sought after and will help bridge the skills gap when transferring to an unfamiliar role in the energy industry.