According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), jobs in the renewable energy sector reached 11.5 million globally during 2020, and are expected to grow exponentially over the next 10 years. That's why one of the core values of the Barbados National Energy Policy (BNEP) is to promote education, awareness and capacity building, while also creating new jobs throughout the energy sector that increase overall employment opportunities in Barbados.
The government´s goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2030 has already encouraged new academic and vocational training programmes in Barbados. To support careers in the sector, the Ministry of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship has developed an online catalogue of locally available educational options related to renewable energy. Compiling this information in one location makes it easier for prospective students to grow professionally and technically in the world of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The Smart Energy Educational Catalogue includes courses from tertiary institutions like the University of the West Indies (UWI), the Barbados Community College, Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology (SJPI) and the Barbados Vocational Training Board (BVTB).
At UWI, for example, students can find courses on the physics of sustainable energy systems and a summer research programme on renewable energy for undergraduates. UWI is also currently developing a Renewable Energy Management Programme.
The Barbados Community College offers a Certificate in Photovoltaic Design and Practice, which is a professional training course that equips practitioners to design and safely install Grid-Tied and Battery Based Systems. The BVTB currently offers apprenticeships for Solar Water Heating Systems Technicians.
In addition, the SJPI has a wide range of training options available, with courses on Photovoltaic Installations, Hybrid-electric and Electric Vehicles Maintenance, Energy Advising and Wind Energy. Plus, SJPIT offers a scholarship in partnership with the Barbados National Oil Company.
This Catalogue is nested in the Smart Energy Barbados website, where persons can find important information on energy in Barbados. This includes details on the BNEP and tips for becoming an Energy Champion at home, school or the office.
The future of green jobs in Barbados
A 2018 study published by the International Labor Office (ILO), and conducted by the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies & Department of Economics of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, concludes that that green jobs will definitely increase their profile in the future on the island.
According to ILO´s definition, “green jobs are those that reduce the environmental impact of enterprises and economic sectors to levels that are considered sustainable. Green jobs must satisfy the criteria of preserving or restoring the quality of the environment while meeting the requirements of decent work (adequate wages, safe conditions, workers’ rights and social dialogue and protection). Green jobs also include work associated with mitigation and adaptation to climate change.”
In this sense, the Barbados energy sector is a vital factor in greening the economy. The study identified individuals capable of undertaking solar PV design and installation, as well as energy auditors - among others - as being currently in demand, while knowledge of energy storage systems and smart grid modelling were highlighted as important skills for the future.
With data from the Sault College and Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology, ILO´s report identify the following occupations and skill sets as those currently in demand:
- Electricians (certified), with alternate and direct current knowledge
- Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
- Solar PV Design with the ability to understand electrical code compliance
- Site Assessors able to use satellite imagery
- PV installers with the ability to read and understand drawings & skills using hand tools
- Energy Auditor able to conduct audits, sound scientific knowledge, familiarity with system dynamics
- Energy Conservation and energy efficiency
- Plumbers knowledge of solar heating systems
- IT Networking Skills
- Sound knowledge of inverter and converter systems
- Knowledge of construction standards and practices
- Project management training and experience
- Health and safety training
The same report identifies the following occupations and skill sets as those currently in demand:
- Non-roof installers (ground/pole/ballast)
- Mechanics with the ability to work on electric batteries and fuel cell technology
- Knowledge of hybrid systems
- PV Designers able to design batteries and off grid systems
- Micro grid knowledge (energy resource, generation, loads and boundaries)
- Knowledge of wind turbine technology, with marine and aquatic skills, vertical wind technology
- Smart grid technology
- Knowledge of waste energy systems (science of anaerobic digestion processes and related systems)
- Engineering Designers with retrofit design knowledge for sustainability (RE/EE, air flow and quality, wastewater reuse, etc.)
- Electrical and computer skills for energy management systems to automatically manage solar, AC, DC and grid connectivity
- Smart metering knowledge and training
- Energy storage knowledge with engineering skills for batteries (lithium), compressed air tanks, water, synthetic and alternative fuel
- Advanced meteorology with application to PV systems
- Agriculture cold storage using PV systems
- Aquaponics and hydroponic knowledge
- Smart and sustainable farming training
- Wind turbine technology for fishing vessels