Critical skills needs and challenges for STEM/STEAM graduates increased employability and entrepreneurship in the solar energy sector

Emeka Amalu, Michael Short, Perk Lin Chong, David J. Hughes, David S. Adebayo, Fideline Tchuenbou-Magaia, Petri Lähde, Marko Kukka, Olympia Polyzou, Theoni I. Oikonomou, Constantine Karytsas, Alemayehu Gebremedhin, Charmant Ossian, N. N. Ekere

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Abstract

Energy produced by photovoltaic module (PVM) is poised to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG-7) by 2030 and Net-Zero by 2050 but not until ample graduates with adequate Solar Energy Technology (SET) skills are produced by Higher education institutions (HEIs). Although PVM has witnessed significant penetration globally, the sustainability of the growth of the sector is challenged by attendant monotonic skilled labour shortages. The evolving growth imbalance is critical in the European Union (EU), limits her global competitiveness and necessitates the need to create wider awareness on the green technology to stimulate more production of solar energy sector (SES) specific skills graduates. Discussing the mismatch between the skills Europe needs and has in the SES, the study outlines key critical skills Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) cum Arts (STEAM) graduates ought to possess to secure sector employment and the challenges limiting them from acquiring the competencies. The review is conducted via extensive study of relevant literature, analysis of interviews and observations. Academic, industrial, and entrepreneurial skills are identified as critical SES needs. Designing and running educational modules/curricula that embed the identified solar technology specialist skills on students and learners are proposed as vehicle to increase their employability and entrepreneurship. This study profiles trends and developments in the SES for stakeholders’ increased awareness while presenting the specialist skills in-demand for employment in the sector. The adoption of SET Training (SETechTra) curricula/modules by the EIs will substantially increase the production of industry-ready graduates whilst decreasing the SES skills gap.
Original languageEnglish
Article number113776
Number of pages17
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Volume187
Early online date29 Sept 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023

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