The students at the center of the green jobs boom

Ellice Mentiplay graduated last year and now has a senior job in renewable energy

Figures show that the number of students taking renewable energy courses in Scotland has increased by 70% in four years.

Scottish Renewables found that 22,000 students were studying subjects covering the sector from engineering to mathematics.

The same survey in 2019 reported around 13,000 young people studying in similar fields.

Scottish Renewables said it showed the attractiveness of the industry.

The numbers come from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to 33 colleges and universities.

The research also showed that the sector is male-dominated, with only 28% of students being female.

Ellice Mentiplay was in the minority but is now a business graduate with EDF Renewables in Edinburgh.

The 24-year-old was born in Perth but her father’s job in the oil and gas industry meant she lived all over the world before eventually returning to Scotland.

Her degree from Abertay University was in Environmental Sciences, which she followed with a Masters in Energy, Society and Sustainability in Edinburgh.

“It’s going to be huge”

On wind energy she said: “I think offshore, particularly in Scotland, is just going to be huge going forward, especially with developments towards floating offshore wind energy.

“When I was younger, I wasn’t really aware that this was a career path I could take.

“By working in renewable energy, I can also help the UK in its transition to clean, net-zero energy.”

Drone image of wind farm components stacked on the quay at Dundee Harbour

Wind farm components stacked up on the quayside in Dundee Harbour

EDF operates Scotland’s only nuclear power station at Torness in the Highlands and is currently constructing the Neart na Gaoithe wind farm off the Fife coast.

It is expected to generate the first electricity this year.

And on the quayside of the Port of Dundee towers and turbine blades are now piled up for installation.

Millie is among the minority of female students taking courses related to renewable energy.

Millie is part of the minority of female students taking courses in renewable energy

Millie Anderson is a fourth year student in renewable energy engineering at Dundee University.

She comes from the city and has no family connection to the energy industry, but has always been interested in technology.

The expanding renewable energy sector was the main selling point as she believes the oil side is unlikely to grow.

She said: “I definitely think it’s more exciting than daunting because you have so much more potential. It might mean certain things don’t work, but that’s part of the fun of trying to figure out what works.

“It’s not ‘same age, same age.’ It’s different challenges, new challenges.”

Industry body Scottish Renewables said wind, solar and hydro were already providing “most” of Scotland’s electricity and contributing more than £5.6 billion to the economy.

According to their FOI numbers, Engineering is the most popular major with 5,373 students, followed by Economics and Management.

The institutions with the highest number of students pursuing courses related to renewable energy are Glasgow Caledonian, followed by St Andrews and Glasgow.

Aaron Wilson from Dunfermline is studying a Masters in Sustainability in Dundee and would like to move into environmental consulting, covering areas of politics and law

Aaron Wilson would like to become an environmental consultant when he graduates.

For Aaron Wilson from Dunfermline, it was a family trip to a hydroelectric power station as a child that sparked his interest in energy.

The 22-year-old is now studying a Masters in Sustainability in Dundee and would like to break into environmental consulting, covering areas of politics and law.

He said: “In the beginning I definitely thought it might be difficult for me to actually get a job, but now I’ve seen the growth and it’s becoming a lot more prominent.

“Consultancy firms have also grown rapidly.”

Aaron believes there is a generational shift in attitudes towards tackling climate change through sustainability and that younger people want roles that support the energy transition.

A Skills Development Scotland report found that there were around 100,000 ‘green jobs’ in 2021, although the number could be far less.

It said ascertaining the true number was difficult for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that there was no formal definition of a “green job”.

Some may be directly related to sustainability or renewable energy technology, while others have more environmentally friendly elements, e.g. B. the installation of heat pumps by a plumber.

But it was said that almost 40% of all vacancies could now be described as “green jobs”.

Johnjo Morgan moved to Scotland from Gloucestershire to train as a classic car restorer.

Johnjo Morgan moved to Scotland from Gloucestershire to train as a classic car restorer

Johnjo Morgan, 23, is the second of a three-year automotive technician apprenticeship.

A self-confessed petrolhead, he has landed a dream job as a classic car restorer with Errol in Perthshire.

He studies one day a week at Dundee and Angus College on a course where he now also teaches students how to work on electric vehicles.

He has noticed an increase in people converting older cars to battery-powered electric motors.

Johnjo explained: “It’s grown in the last two years. It didn’t exist and now everyone’s starting to hear about it, so I would imagine it’s only going to get bigger.

“Older cars were more interesting with petrol and diesel. The engines were more interesting, but they are of their time. The future is definitely electric.”

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