International Youth Day: Fostering Future Leaders with Skills for the Clean Economy

India plays a pivotal role in the global shift towards clean energy, largely due to its status as the world’s third-largest energy consumer in 2022.[i] By accelerating this energy shift, the nation has the potential to unlock an array of opportunities- employment creation, enhancement of energy security, and substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, both on a national and global scale. However, in its pursuit to achieve net-zero emissions, the country needs to address a pressing challenge that could potentially impede its ambitious decarbonization goals: the scarcity of skilled professionals. The energy sector, which employs over 65 million individuals worldwide (nearly 2% of the formal workforce), urgently requires skilled professional who can lead the transition towards cleaner energy alternatives. This urgency is intrinsically linked to the formidable mission of constraining the earth’s rising temperatures to a 1.5-degree Celsius increase by 2050. Within this context, preparing today’s youth as leading companies in the solar industry, takes on paramount importance.

The Rise of Clean Energy Jobs and Their Significance

So, what do we mean by “Clean Energy Jobs,” and why are they so important? Picture Product Designers, Project Engineers, AI & ML experts, civil, mechanical, structural, electrical, software engineers, geological and structural subject matter experts, etc.– these individuals are catalysts for innovation and advancements in the clean energy space. These roles go beyond traditional boundaries, encompassing positions that contribute not only to environmental preservation but also to driving progress. As India transitions towards a more environmentally focused economy, the demand for such skill sets is an imperative that embraces technical proficiency, industry-specific understanding, and digital savvy.

Projections indicate that India could experience a substantial surge of 74 million green jobs by 2050, driven by the energy transition. This includes various sectors such as government, finance, business services, and agriculture. To realize this potential, it is crucial to adopt sustainable practices, invest in upskilling the existing workforce, encourage entrepreneurial ventures, and adequately preparing young job-seekers for roles in the burgeoning green job sector.

A Collaborative Approach is Vital for Progress

To make India the green skill capital of the world, collaborative efforts among governmental policies, private enterprises, and non-profit organizations is of paramount importance. Leading Indian corporations are already taking proactive strides in this direction. Initiatives such as the establishment of the Skill Council for Green Jobs (SCGJ) and the formulation of national occupational standards and qualification packs (QPs) underscore a dedicated commitment to nurturing a skilled and sustainable workforce. By forging strong collaborations, Nextracker aims to deepen impact, accelerate the transition to clean energy, and empower the next generation of leaders with relevant skills for a green future.

Government Support in Paving the Way for a Green Economy

The Union Budget 2023 exemplified a commendable commitment to the ‘Green Economy.’ Initiatives like the Product Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme and the National Green Hydrogen Mission, backed by INR 19,744 crore, underscore the government’s determination to drive sustainable practices and generate green job opportunities. This visionary mission aims to create 6 lakh green jobs, a testament to the transformative power towards a sustainable economy.

Nextracker’s Role in Nurturing Climatech Talent

Embracing technology, standardizing work processes, building essential skills, and fostering diversity will be the cornerstones of creating a net-zero workforce. Nextracker, as a trailblazer in the clean energy sector, is committed to playing a pivotal role in nurturing this workforce through various initiatives:

  • Internship Programs: Our robust internship initiatives provide hands-on experience with cutting-edge clean energy technologies. These programs bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, nurturing future leaders. Our PowerworX Academy™ offers hands-on training that equips students with real-world experience and expertise. We have trained over 1,500 solar workers at our PowerworX Academy™ locations in the U.S., India, Brazil, the Middle East North Africa, and Australia.

At present, Ayushi is working as a Program Manager Intern to help digitize our supply chain programs and Rohan is working to help automate and optimize key business processes, addressing pain points and enabling efficiency gains throughout the value chain.

  • Scholarship Programs: Our scholarship initiatives break down financial barriers, enabling talented individuals to pursue education in clean energy fields. This promotes expertise and inclusivity. Notably, Nextracker has partnered with Solar Energy International (SEI) to launch “Half the Sun,” a global scholarship program aiming to support women in the solar workforce. Over three years, the program provides 10 students annually with full scholarships for SEI’s comprehensive six-week solar training course and mentoring with 1 to 1 matches with Nextracker global staff.

The task of fostering a green workforce of the future goes beyond the realm of government and encompasses a joint undertaking that engages both the public and private sectors. Time is of the essence, with the younger generation observing attentively. Hence, we must rise to the challenge and champion sustainable practices, impart essential skills, and foster entrepreneurship to unlock the potential of our youth and safeguard our planet.