The promise of a green future depends on building the right skills today

The promise of a green future depends on building the right skills today

The ongoing transition to renewable energy sources is an ‘all hands on deck’ moment for industries across the board. It’s an effort that affects everyone in the here and now as it sets up a future that will be radically different from the world we know.    

Technology has captured much of the attention as decarbonisation efforts have rolled out across the globe, but there is another critical aspect to this transition – the building of required technical skills in the future workforce.   

How ABB is building the skills today for a greener tomorrow   

The energy transition brings with it unprecedented potential for job creation and upskilling. The IEA’s landmark Net Zero by 2050 report suggests up to 14 million new jobs related to clean energy technologies are on the horizon, along with training and skill enhancement for a further 30 million employees.    

And not a moment too soon. According to a 2023 report from Engineers Australia, the nation’s engineering skills and labour shortage is at its worst point in over a decade, with females making up just 14 per cent of the engineering workforce.     

What’s more, the clean energy sector is among the most challenged by this shortage. Fortunately, as indicated in the IEA report, within these challenges lie opportunities that can be unlocked with the right training and skills development.     

A leader in electrification and automation, ABB is an instrumental player in the clean energy transition. At any given moment around the world, ABB technology can be found doing the heavy lifting for industries making the switch.    

As part of our comprehensive Sustainability Agenda, ABB has embarked on an engagement program that allows students to develop the skills required to take advantage of future opportunities.   

Partnerships of impact    

Through a series of key partnerships and sponsorships with colleges and education institutes, ABB is preparing the soil from which tomorrow’s experts will grow. In 2023, ABB partnered with Imperial College London, home of the world’s only carbon capture training plant of its kind. Its students benefit from measurement, digital and control technology provided by ABB.    

Meanwhile here in Australia, ABB has been building on its partnership with Horizon Educational. Established in 2013 as a connective tissue between students and the growing renewable energy technology front, Horizon Educational has emerged as a dynamic proponent of green power – a perfect match for ABB.    

Today, Horizon Educational distributes STEM kits that are designed and produced in-house to classrooms in over 150 countries progressively laying the groundwork for a diverse new generation to make a difference.    

Elina Aghbolaghi, Engineering Manager – Australia Energy Industries Division at ABB, is passionate about such partnerships that invest in STEM skills for a renewable energy future.     

By providing resources, scholarships and mentorship opportunities, students – including women and other underrepresented groups – can upskill themselves with the knowledge and skills needed for careers in renewable energy, Elina says.    

Gender diversity is particularly important, she adds, as it brings a variety of perspectives, experiences, and ideas to the table. “When diverse teams collaborate in STEM fields, they tend to generate more innovative solutions and ideas,” she says.     

Also, investment in gender diversity involves actively working to break down the bias and creating a more inclusive environment where everyone has equal opportunities to succeed. Seeing successful women in STEM roles can inspire future generations of girls to pursue careers in these fields. 

As part of its partnership with Horizon Educational, ABB is sponsoring, for the second year in a row, two teams from Foxwell State Secondary College in the Gold Coast as they prepare to take part in the Horizon Hydrogen Grand Prix (H2GP).    

The H2GP program provides students with the know-how and resources to design, build and race hydrogen-powered 1:10-scale radio controlled (RC) cars. It provides a great opportunity for students to learn how to pioneer new energy solutions through a process of hands-on learning.     

ABB is sponsoring two Foxwell teams: the ABB Foxwell Lightening Queens and the ABB Foxwheel Angels. Both are made up entirely of female students, who go on a journey of discovery from the basics of hydrogen engines to actually building one and then taking their RC creations on the road.    

When it comes to innovation and science, ABB wants to make it as equitable as possible. We specifically wanted to support teams of girls, says Eve Keller, Senior Legal Counsel, Motion, ABB.     
That was extra exciting for me because when I went to school, this kind of thing wasn’t such a big focus. It’s great to see that the inclusion of women in the STEM industry now starts at this grassroots level.   

Critical skills for our future    

ABB has form in helping students excel in emerging fields. In addition to the carbon capture plant at Imperial College London, easy-to-use ABB Robotics education packages have been provided to colleges, schools and universities around the world in recent years. Students who took part were rewarded with a globally recognised technical qualification.    

Collaborations between educational institutions and industry partners can offer students hands-on activities to gain deeper understanding of renewable energy concepts and principles, Elina says.    

Engaging in practical activities requires students to think critically, analyse data and develop innovative solutions to overcome obstacles. The H2GP is a fun and creative example.     According to Eve, this year’s event on the Gold Coast will shine a much-needed spotlight on Australian girls as they prepare to build critical renewable energy skills.    

ABB is supporting Foxwell to open the gates for others, she says. We want to show that a large corporation is willing to support them, that they should have the same opportunities when it comes to developing future skills and experience. Diversity, in a broader sense, is important, but making STEM learning accessible to females is crucial to us.    

The confidence Foxwell students gain with ABB in their corner can spur them on to greater creative and innovative heights. And no matter who takes out the H2GP championship, the ultimate winners will be future generations.    

The H2GP is edge-of-your-seat good, Eve added. It’s great to see these students all in the same boat working towards the same goal. There’s a lot of adaptability and problem solving on the go. It’s healthy, positive competition, and that builds a lot of those core skills that will be critical in the future.

The sustainable evolution is happening. As a global technology leader contributing to the green energy transition, ABB is committed to supporting future generations to develop the necessary skills that will enable them to power a sustainable future.   

From the grandest scale of wind and solar farms to the RC hydrogen cars under construction at Foxwell State Secondary College, every effort matters today – and even more so tomorrow.      


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