The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is strategizing on ways to boost employment opportunities within the sector job portal. The latest draft policy framework of the ministry emphasized on ‘promoting decentralized renewable energy in livelihood applications”.

This means MNRE is seeking to create job opportunities in the green energy sector-to employ people in the setting up or operating of solar street lights, standalone street pumps, biogas plants and solar power plants.

Acting on the MNRE policy, skills Council for Green Jobs (SCGJ) which functions as an arm for the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, unveiled an online desktop version of a job portal this week.

The portal works like any site offering information on job openings, except that the jobs listed will be restricted to those from the new and renewable energy sector. Although the portal is at a nascent stage currently, there are plans to launch awareness about it on employment platforms like LinkedIn, to draw skilled individuals who could work for government projects in this sector.

According to the report, while the pandemic led to concerns regarding the “re-skilling” of professionals, “India has potential to create about 3.4 million jobs by installing 238 GW solar and 101 GW new wind capacity to achieve the 500 GW non-fossil electricity generation capacity by 2030 goal”.

The report also stated that, in 2021, the wind and solar energy sectors employed a workforce of 111,400. While the solar sector contributed 77 per cent of this, employment in the wind energy sector accounted for 23 per cent of the employment here.

Post-Covid recovery efforts by agencies working with the ministry, the report said, have indicated a narrowed focus on job creation, skill development and community welfare. This is what the MNRE’s new policy framework seeks to correct.

Challenges in creating green jobs

Experts working in the renewable energy space, however, pointed out some key issues related to data acquisition, to gain insights into the technological potential and employment needs of a region.

According to Binit Das, Deputy Programme Manager for Renewable Energy, Centre for Science and Environment, “Most of the jobs created so far are temporary, which vanish at the end of asset construction. Estimates shared by the Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited earlier had claimed that it employed around 3,000 direct workers and 2,000 indirect ones every day (in 2019), whereas it is currently employing less than 500 skilled and unskilled workers. The automation of unskilled workers is another serious threat.”

There is no follow-up data yet that could be relied on to determine the sector’s success in giving jobs, add experts. The SCGJ, too, foresees challenges once the portal becomes functional, such as monitoring records on the ground, populating the job portal website at a steadfast speed, and identifying the workforce for re-training.

“There is no independent research from our side to identify region-specific needs and requirements for DRE (decentralised renewable energy), we follow the ministry’s footsteps,” said SCGJ CEO Praveen Saxena.