Closing the clean energy skills gap: key skills for careers in renewable energy

Ever wondered about the skills needed for a career in renewable energy? From construction managers to environmental engineers, the opportunities are vast!

There is a growing gap in skilled clean energy workers in Alberta, my home province. A recent survey from Canadian Manufacturers showed that Canada’s economy lost approximately 13 billion CAD dollars to labour shortages in 2022. Our ability to hit national and provincial net zero targets relies on our labour force to deliver transformational infrastructure change. We need to do more to quantify and promote the range of skills and backgrounds that can be found in the renewable space.

I was recently asked by a local landowner about the types of education and experience needed to work on a solar farm. I discussed with a few colleagues from Alberta who resource the construction and operation of renewable energy plants. Here is a general list of skills and education that are regularly sought-after during development, construction, and operation of renewable energy plants. These are good quality, good salary, high demand jobs that will exist for the foreseeable future. When the moratorium hit, Pembina Institute, a local energy think tank, released some metrics on calculating, among other things, job creation from renewable energy projects1. I have used this logic to estimate job creation when a solar farm is being developed. There are approximately 100 construction related jobs created for every 100MW of development. Approximately 60% of these jobs are sourced locally to the project, the rest coming from experts in and around the province.

Here are some of the always in demand skills that are needed during the construction phase:

  1. Construction Managers and Task Foremen. A well-organized project flows like it should, sequencing of tasks makes all the difference between things moving forward properly or being held up by the phase in front of you.
  2. General labour that can work remotely and understand camp life. 
  3. Equipment operators (small equipment light trucks, skid steers, tractors, as well as loaders and telehandlers). Because of the interface with workers on the ground and the sheer volume of material on large scale jobs, operators need to be detailed, cautious, and conscientious. 
  4. Quality control, as it occurs at every level. Employees that excel at documentation are valuable to the process and are always in demand. 
  5. Safety. Employees that can work diligently and responsibly with a high level of site awareness are critical to every operation.  

If you are starting out, or thinking of a career change into renewable energy, here is a sample list of diplomas and degrees (1–4-year programs) that you often find in the renewable space: Power Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Environmental Engineer, Civil Engineer, Land Management and Restoration, Geologist, Electrical Engineer, Accounting, and Business, Welding, Mechanic, Class 3 drivers.

A quick google search on ‘renewable energy jobs Alberta’ will produce a long list of sites with dozens of open positions in renewable energy. Happy reading!

Korkia is an accelerator of the energy transition – we are the preferred partner for asset developers, owners and investors, throughout the value chain. Together with its local partner Universal Kraft Canada, Korkia has nearly 1800 MW of renewable energy under development in Canada.


[1] Pembina Institute. Alberta’s Renewable Energy Moratorium Factsheet