Sector Insights

Graduate opportunities in the energy sector in the Highlands & Islands

Hydro, tidal, wind and wave: if you’re considering your career options, the energy sector should be on your marine radar.

Published: 21/05/2018

Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm

“But my degree is in civil engineering / software development / international development / Viking studies!”

Ok, maybe not Viking studies, but in general don’t be put off by your degree discipline.  The energy sector in the Highlands and Islands is looking for skilled, passionate and innovative graduates to help drive its rapid growth. 

More and more routes into the sector are opening up.  UHI now offers a dedicated Sustainable Energy Solutions Masters course, and Nigg Skills Academy, run by Global Energy Group in Tain, is an excellent resource for graduates and modern apprentices to provide practical experience and training for the energy sector.  ScotGrad also supports graduate placements in the industry so – while you’re here – make sure you sign up for our vacancy alerts.

The region's strong legacy in oil and gas, and abundance of renewable energy resources - with its expanse of coastal waters, strong waves and tides - mean it is ideally placed to be at the forefront of the energy industry. 

The Highlands and Islands one of the best locations in Europe for spearheading offshore wind, wave and tidal power. Meanwhile onshore wind, hydro-electric and biomass schemes are powering local communities.  Several hundred businesses across the region are active in the energy industry, including electrical installers, crane hire, haulage, civil engineering, environmental consultants and many more. 

The region has also become a world leader in the development and production of marine renewable energy. The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) based in Orkney, attracts developers from all over the world, because it’s the world’s first (and only) grid connected and accredited testing facility for full-scale wave and tidal energy devices.

Currently, there are around 1,700 people working in the UK wave and tidal sectors, but this could grow to a whopping 20,000 skilled jobs in the next decade.

Tidal energy

And let’s not forget offshore wind, an emerging industry with massive potential, set to become Scotland's next industrial revolution, creating tens of thousands of highly skilled and sustainable jobs.  It’s already gathering pace: at £2.6bn, the SSE-led Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (BOWL) project is one of Scotland’s largest private infrastructure investments, and will be the world’s deepest offshore wind farm. Once fully operational, BOWL is estimated to provide power to approximately 450,000 homes. That’s a lot of homes.

In fact there are some big, innovative projects happening that set the region apart, from not only the rest of Scotland, but also globally. For example, Atlantis Resources’ 6MW MeyGen Phase 1A project in the Pentland Firth (between Caithness and Orkney) is the world’s first utility scale, grid-connected, tidal array energy farm.

Scottish companies are also leading the charge; indigenous tidal energy company, Scotrenewables Tidal Power, has developed a 2MW SR2000 tidal turbine – the world’s most powerful turbine of its kind.

The renewable energy projects taking place off our shores are truly pioneering and delivering exciting ‘world firsts’, which are really putting the spotlight on Scotland, and the Highlands and Islands in particular.

So, with a [tidal] array of opportunities, perhaps it’s high tide you thought about getting your foot in the energy door…