Jobs in Energy Sector Grow to 67 Million in 2022, but Skill Shortage a Concern: IEA

Over 50% of the employment growth is concentrated in the solar, wind, and EV sectors.

November 27, 2023


The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) recent World Energy Employment report found that investments in clean energy technologies drove demand for new workers in every region of the world. However, a shortage of skilled labor has emerged as a key barrier to ramping up activity.

The report found that global energy employment rose to 67 million people in 2022, a 3.2 million increase from pre-pandemic levels.

In a survey of over 160 energy companies conducted by the IEA, over 50% of the employment growth was concentrated mainly in solar photovoltaics, wind, electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries, heat pumps, and critical minerals mining. With 4 million jobs, the solar sector remained the largest employer, closely followed by the EVs and batteries sector.

The uptick of clean energy jobs occurred in every region of the world, with China, home to the largest energy workforce today, accounting for the largest share of jobs added globally.

Currently, clean energy jobs represent nearly half the total share of energy sector jobs. However, the number of workers pursuing degrees or certifications relevant to energy sector jobs is not keeping pace with growing demand.

The increasing demand for workers in clean energy is expected to continue, with the growth in new jobs outweighing declines in fossil fuel roles in all IEA scenarios. In the updated Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario – which provides a global energy sector pathway consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5 °C – 30 million new clean energy jobs will be created by 2030, while close to 13 million jobs in fossil fuel-related industries are at risk.

“Governments, industry, and educational institutions need to put in place programs to deliver the expertise needed in the energy sector to keep pace with growing demand, particularly to manufacture and build the clean energy projects necessary to meet our energy and climate goals,” said Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director.

The energy sector requires more highly skilled, specialized energy workers than many other industries, where at least 36% of the workers have undergone some sort of tertiary education and 51% some vocational training.

Jobs in Energy Sector Grow to 67 Million in 2022

Only 13% of the labor in this sector is categorized as low-skilled, often undertaken by laborers in emerging markets and developing economies. In advanced economies, the labor-intensive tasks performed by low-skilled workers have been mechanized, automated, or outsourced.

According to the report, targeting workers currently engaged in allied or related occupations with some specialization can reduce the skilling burden. New certifications and curricula must be created to reflect emerging skill requirements.

Worldwide employment in renewable energy reached 12.7 million in 2021, an increase of 700,000 new jobs despite economic setbacks resulting from COVID-19 and the growing energy crisis, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency and the International Labor Organization.

The United States had 263,883 jobs dedicated to solar energy as of December 2022, indicating a 3.5% growth with 8,846 additional jobs since 2021, according to the 13th annual National Solar Jobs Census by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.