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Bridging the Skills Gap in the Renewables Sector

UKPN

There is a green revolution and the renewables sector has become a key part of creating a sustainable future.

Renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal, are crucial to mitigating climate change and securing energy independence. Technologies and processes such as heat pumps, solar thermal, and retrofitting are becoming more well-known options for making homes and commercial premises more environmentally friendly.

The renewables sector is rapidly growing but amidst this promise lies a pressing challenge, the lack of skilled workers available for the rising number of jobs in this field.

The growing skills gap

The renewables sector encompasses many industries dedicated to harnessing clean, renewable energy sources. According to a report by RenewableUK, the UK’s leading renewable energy trade association, the sector employs over 230,000 people nationwide [1]. Yet, despite its rapid growth, the industry faces a critical shortage of skilled workers.

A combination of factors has exacerbated the skills gap within the renewables sector. Rapid technological advancements, an ageing workforce, and inadequate training infrastructure have contributed to the need for more skilled workers.

According to a study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the global renewable energy sector will require an additional 42 million jobs by 2050 to meet climate goals [2].

Powering up training with immersive learning solution

Immersive technologies, including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and the metaverse, are revolutionising how we approach learning and skills training within the renewables sector. Let’s delve deeper into how each of these technologies can support and enhance the learning experience:

1. Virtual Reality (VR)

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VR creates fully immersive environments that simulate real-world scenarios, providing learners with hands-on experience without the need for physical equipment or resources. In the renewables sector, VR can transport trainees to various settings, such as wind farms, solar installations, or hydroelectric plants, allowing them to interact with equipment, troubleshoot issues, and practice safety procedures in a risk-free environment. Moreover, VR enables trainers to create customised training modules tailored to specific job roles and learning objectives, ensuring that each learner receives personalised instruction that aligns with their needs and skill level.

2. Augmented Reality (AR):

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AR overlays digital information onto the physical world, offering learners real-time contextual guidance and support. AR can enhance on-the-job training within the renewables sector by providing technicians with interactive overlays that display equipment specifications, maintenance instructions, and safety protocols directly within their field of view. For example, a technician performing maintenance on a wind turbine could use AR glasses or QR codes to access step-by-step repair instructions and visualisations, improving efficiency and reducing errors. AR can also facilitate remote collaboration, allowing experts to guide and supervise field technicians from anywhere in the world.

3. The Metaverse:

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The metaverse represents a shared virtual space where users can interact with digital objects, environments, and other users in real time. Within renewables training, the metaverse offers a collaborative learning environment where learners can engage with instructors, peers, and industry experts from around the globe. The metaverse enables learners to participate in dynamic, experiential learning experiences that encourage collaboration, creativity, and knowledge sharing by leveraging virtual classrooms, immersive simulations, and interactive workshops. Additionally, the metaverse provides a platform for continuous learning and professional development, with access to a vast repository of educational resources, industry insights, and networking opportunities.

VR, AR, and the metaverse are powerful tools that can transform skills training within the renewables sector by providing immersive, interactive, and personalised learning experiences. By harnessing these technologies, organisations can bridge the skills gap, empower their workforce, and accelerate the transition to a clean energy future.

Navigating the Digital Landscape

While immersive learning holds immense potential, it’s not without its challenges. Organisations may face technical barriers, implementation costs, and resistance to change. However, these challenges can be overcome by investing in user-friendly platforms and providing comprehensive training and support.

Empowering the Workforce of Tomorrow

Immersive learning has undeniable benefits for bridging the renewables skills gap. By offering hands-on, interactive training experiences, VR, AR, and the metaverse empower workers to develop critical skills in a safe and controlled environment. According to a study by PwC, VR training can improve learning retention by up to 75% compared to traditional methods [3].

Addressing the skills gap within the renewables sector is paramount as we transition to a clean energy future. Through the power of immersive technologies, organisations can equip their workforce with the skills and knowledge needed to drive innovation and accelerate the transition to renewable energy.

mXreality are experts in transformational technology used across business and education. Our mXlearn platform delivers an incredible immersive learning experience, using realistic learning scenarios to combine technology and engage learners.

We have already created a series of learning programs for the renewables sector and look forward to working with our partners to create more, so that we can close the skills gap and power up renewables sector growth.  

To find out more, please visit www.mxreality.co.uk

References:

1. RenewableUK. “UK Renewable Energy Industry Statistics.” https://www.renewableuk.com/page/UKWEDExplained

2. International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). “Global Renewables Outlook: Energy Transformation 2050.” https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Apr/Global-Renewables-Outlook-2020

3. PwC. “The Effectiveness of Virtual Reality Soft Skills Training in the Enterprise.” https://www.pwc.com/us/en/library/financial-services/regulatory-services/virtual-reality-soft-skills-training.html

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