As the energy sector grows and evolves, there is a great demand for new skills in technology, particularly in energy trading. This has led to a call for employees with relevant experience, and the financial services industry has candidates that fit the bill. The result? There is now a war for talent between the two sectors.
The demand isn’t only for traditional generation activities, but for new technological developments. As the UK government recognises the need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, offshore renewables are dominating its agenda. This has created a need for different skill sets, with technology specialists being highly sought after. Contractors that are able to understand the process and terminology of energy trading, and have the ability to install, integrate and support complex commodity trading systems would be the perfect candidates.
The importance of finding people with the right skills in technology has been recognised by companies such as IBM. In an executive brief entitled: ‘The Next Generation of Energy Trading’, it pointed out that improved IT capabilities are so critical to effective energy trading that, according to Meta Group, 70% of companies are increasing their spending in energy trading support. Also, even those that aren’t investing in new trading platforms are looking at different strategies to adapt their legacy systems.
You only have to look at press coverage over the past year to see some of the changes that are taking place in the energy sector. For example, EDF Trading has had a complete overhaul of its core energy trading risk management (ETRM) platform and has also adopted several new technologies. These major ongoing IT projects will all need staffing.
The problem though is that suitable candidates are in short supply. Given this limited talent pool, the energy sector is looking at the other main area of energy trading activity – investment banking – as a source of new skills in technology. The consequence is that there are rich pickings for those with the relevant skills, creating a war for talent.
There are several benefits for contractors looking to make the move to the energy sector. Money is one such temptation as, when demand exceeds supply, salaries rise. It’s not only about pay though as it can offer a completely different cultural experience, with benefits such as overseas work – typically with paid flights and accommodation – or the flexibility to work from home for a couple of days a week.
Banks are struggling to compete with these benefits, which is leading to a brain drain away from the financial services sector. This has caused banks to look for new ways to attract and retain their staff, meaning that technology talent will benefit whether employees decide to move or stay. Also, as their skills are completely transferable, the transition from financial institution to industry is very straightforward, and it’s just as easy to move back again.
The expansion of the energy trading industry is definitely great news for technology contractors, providing them with more options as the two sectors compete for their skills. The decision to change jobs or not is up to them, but it’s clear that the battle is on.
Adrian Kinnersley, Managing Director of Twenty Recruitment.
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