by Dan McCue
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has launched a new Web-based database to link aspiring renewable energy professionals with internship opportunities.
Titled the “IRENA Renewable Energy Learning Partnership (IRELP) database”, the online tool is an addition to the existing IRELP portal, which currently features more than 1,500 renewable energy courses, seminars, degree programmes, webinars and training guides.
The global internship database was created to help young professionals enter the field of renewable energy and raise the profile of renewable energy as an attractive career option.
The agency believes the foundation of a strong workforce will be pivotal in the global transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
IRENA estimates that in 2012 there were as many as 5.7 million people employed in the renewable energy sector. Yet despite this, there remains a critical shortage of skilled personnel to develop, design, finance, build, operate and maintain renewable energy projects. IRELP was developed to address this shortage, which represents one of the greatest barriers to the wider diffusion of renewable energy technologies.
During an economic recession, it can be extremely challenging to find employment – especially for students and recent graduates. In the wake of the financial crisis, global unemployment rates have hit 6 percent, with little expectation of improvement projected until after 2016. Those most severely affected are youth aged 15 – 24, with the global youth unemployment amounting to 12.6 percent.
While statistics like these are discouraging, the renewable energy sector is actually one of the bright spots in the global economy as it continues to grow at an unprecedented pace.
And this good news is expected to continue for some time, as renewables are projected to account for 74 percent of new power capacity added worldwide by 2030.
Through the IRELP renewable energy internship database, IRENA aims to provide more opportunities for young professionals to gain experience in the renewable energy sector.
As the agency said in its recent announcement of the new database: “Internships open doors to future jobs, fellowships, graduate school, and networks. Internships not only provide valuable work experience and opportunities for networking, but also give young people the opportunity to test-drive a career before committing.
“At the same time,” IRENA continued, “internships give employers the opportunity to find the talent they need to help grow their organisations without relying on just a short interview process. Entry level employees are the future of organisations and in many ways are the most important recruiting decision an employer can make.”
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