Emerging offshore markets facing skills shortage

More than 77,000 workers will be needed to build the nearly 31GW of new offshore wind farms expected to be commissioned in emerging markets by 2024, according to new research. But recruiting and training these workers could be difficult.

GWEC envisages nearly 31GW being built off the coasts of North America, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea between 2020 and 2024

Roughly 2.5 employees will be needed for each MW built off the coasts of North America, China, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam and South Korea between 2020 and 2024, industry body Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and standardised safety advocate Global Wind Organisation (GWO) calculate.

However, a lack of training centres, available instructors and familiarity with safety standards in these markets present barriers to recruiting and training these workers, the groups stated. 

There is also a risk of training standards being perceived as “imposed” and being counter to local regulations and cultural norms, they added in their report Powering the Future: Global Offshore Wind Workforce Outlook 2020-2024.

The report envisages 5.72GW of new offshore wind capacity to be built off North America, 19GW off China, 3.6MW off Taiwan, 860MW off Japan, 1.1GW off Vietnam and 560MW off South Korea between 2020 and 2024.

“These markets are moving faster than we have ever seen before, and it is crucial that workforce training keeps up to build a good reputation for the sector and ensure growth opportunities for years to come," said GWEC CEO Ben Backwell.

MarketForecast installations (MW)Calculated workforce requirement
North America5,72014,300
South Korea5601,400

The two groups need to continue to emphasise the development of skilled workforces with the necessary health and safety training and work with developers, regulators and emerging markets’ industry bodies to better understand local barriers to GWO safety standards.

The GWO — an organisation of wind turbine owners and manufacturers advocating standardised health and safety measures — has training centres in China, the US and Taiwan.

Its CEO Jakob Lau Holst said it needs to ramp up training in the six markets identified in the report.

“The offshore wind industry needs to be a leader in health and safety to attract the best talent and ensure the sustainability of the workforce, having standardised training is the most effective way to accomplish this," he added.