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This project proposes to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to produce a framework for competency at different levels in working with hydrogen. The project will engage with the industrial clusters and academia to work towards this goal. This project is seen as essential to create the necessary skills base in a short period of time to enable a transition to a hydrogen economy. The view is that it is easier to transfer existing skills, knowledge and resource to hydrogen than look to start afresh.
This Phase 1 project focuses on providing a skills perspective to facilitate the transition towards a hydrogen-based energy economy as it analyses and reviews the skills landscape related to hydrogen production, storage, and transmission. It should be noted that the project scope did not cover domestic use, merchant markets, or mobility aspects of the hydrogen value chain. Moreover, the report (main deliverable) aims to identify priority areas for future phases of the project and suggests that the solutions to skills needs will be explored in Phases 2 and 3 (which are outwith allocated IDRIC funding).
Phase 1 comprised a baseline/gap-analysis desktop research and interviews with industry and academia to define current position with skills requirements and future expectations.
A stakeholder Working Group was established to further develop the scope of the project, provide direction and peer review the Phase 1 deliverable. Some 15 organisations participated in the stakeholder Working Group; however, the following actively participated: ENI, Brighton University, Nottingham University and CATCH.
The research element of the project has involved interviews with industry and academia (both Further and Higher Educational Establishments).
Going forward, the intent is to conduct a Phase 1a prior to embarking on Phase 2 of the wider project. Phase 1a will provide a comprehensive analysis of the impact of an ageing workforce and will address intricate skill gaps projected over the next decade, building on the shorter-term analysis provided in Phase 1.
At a workshop held on 3rd July 2023, several stakeholders with interests in parts of the forward hydrogen economy shared their activities, with a view to understanding their scopes, identified needs and forward developments. This sharing session has helped to inform the scope of EI’s Phase 1a and its role in hydrogen skills going forward. Participants in the workshop included prominent entities such as CATCH UK, EU Skills, Opito, Cogent Skills, ECITB and Hydrogen Alliance.
The Phase 1 literature and experience review has been finalised with the main deliverable published as Research Report: Landscape review of skills needed for an emerging hydrogen-based economy (Research report: Landscape review of skills needed for an emerging hydrogen based economy | EI – Publishing (energyinst.org)), (Energy Institute, 1st edition, May 2023, ISBN 9781787253766). A summary of that report is available in the Knowledge Hub.
The key deliverable of this landscape review is a Research Report that identifies and analyses skills needs for a future hydrogen economy. The report focuses on the required skills and knowledge required for hydrogen value chain blocks such as production, storage, transmission, exploring potential new or repurposed skills from sectors like oil and gas (including refining), petrochemicals, and thermal power generation.
The report provides a thorough analysis, evaluating skills transfer, upskilling, and new skills required across various roles such as professional engineers, data scientists, specialist fabricators, managers, technicians, and more, related to the hydrogen value chain. The document offers insights into current and future hydrogen production, storage, and associated skills, delving into skills requirements for design, operation, fabrication, inspection, and industry-wide needs. The project combines desktop analysis, limited primary research through surveys and interviews, to formulate conclusions and recommendations.
A central challenge highlighted is the industry’s need to adapt to an ageing workforce and insufficient new entrants. Specific gaps and skill need for certain job roles, as well as the importance of attracting new talent, are emphasised.