Understanding hydrogen skills

A guide to unlocking hydrogen skills for local authorities and local leaders

01 Importance

Why are hydrogen skills becoming increasingly important?

The ambitious target for growth of the UK hydrogen sector as set out in the Hydrogen Strategy will require the rapid development of critical supply chain businesses and with it the skills necessary to establish and upskill the workforce.

The Hydrogen Strategy provides a timeline for supporting policy and activity to enable the expansion of the hydrogen sector in the 2030s as shown in the diagram below:

Developing the hydrogen sector will need the utilisation of existing skills in energy and other sectors, such as the oil and gas industry and the off-shore wind industry and will also need new skills to be developed and made available at the right time and place. The development of the hydrogen sector will help both retain and create new high-quality green jobs.

UK net-zero commitments

The UK net-zero strategy also highlights the government’s key commitments for the development of green jobs, skills and industries, all of which applies to the hydrogen sector. The commitments are listed here.

Similarly in the EU, the GreenSkillsforH2 project is aiming to design and implement a hydrogen skills strategy to meet the future demand for resources in the sector, develop rollout vocational training, create a European hydrogen skills community and a hydrogen skills alliance.

  • Publishing sector and supply chain development plans to encourage investment in green skills and industries in the UK.
  • Supporting the development of a skilled, competitive supply chain for key green industries in the UK.
  • Reforming the skills system so that training providers, employers and learners are incentivised and equipped to deliver what is required for the transition to net zero.
  • Delivering a Lifetime Skills Guarantee and grow post-16 training programmes (apprenticeships, Skills Bootcamps and T levels) to address the needs of green jobs employers and help individuals train or re-train if needed for them.

  • Introducing a sustainability and climate change strategy for education and children’s services.

02 Required Skills

What are the required skills for the hydrogen economy?

The hydrogen sector requires a wide range of interdisciplinary knowledge and skills. These include sciences, such as; materials, chemistry and electrochemistry, engineering such as chemical, mechanical and civil, human science, project management and financing, strategy and policy.

The Hydrogen Skills Alliance led by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, aims to build the workforce required for the growth of the hydrogen sector in the UK. The alliance has been working with stakeholders to identify skills required by the industry, and ensuring training programmes align with the needs in terms of content and scale. The Hydrogen Skill Alliance offers free online hydrogen training modules.

Hydrogen skills: themes

Hydrogen skills can be categorised under 7 main themes:

This is important to introduce the existing and future workforce to hydrogen.

Hydrogen policies and regulation is at the heart of the hydrogen transition.
An exciting area for hydrogen as institutions look for ways to improve the commercial viability of hydrogen.
Skills essential to filling high value hydrogen jobs across LA areas.
Skills essential to filling high value hydrogen jobs across LA areas and accelerating the hydrogen economy.
An important skillset to ensure the safe deployment and operation of hydrogen technology over the long-term.
Increased demand of these skills for managing the hydrogen economy and value chain.

Green & Hydrogen Skills Insights in the Midlands Engine

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Source: Midlands Engine

Green & Hydrogen Jobs in the Midlands Engine

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Source: Midlands Engine

03 Training Courses

Education and training institutions in the Midlands have been at the forefront of developing hydrogen training programmes, from leading Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) programmes in Hydrogen and fuel cells, to developing and running postgraduate, undergraduate and technician training programmes, and CPD modules as shown below.

Skills Acquisition Methods

Undergraduate courses
Postgraduate programmes
Technician training
CDT programmes

Courses need to acquire H2 skills

Renewable Energy Systems

Hydrogen for Civil Aviation: H2 in the Aircraft

Biofuels and Biorefining

Future Vehicle Technologies

Various hydrogen upskilling courses
PhD Programmes

Training Institutions offering H2 skills

Aston University
Cranfield University
Loughborough University
University of Birmingham
University of Nottingham
Keele University
Warwick University

In addition to academic and accredited modules, HyDEX is offering hydrogen skills modules for industry professionals through lecture series and webinars to enable knowledge sharing and developing required knowledge in the industry. Providers such as the Institutes of Technology are also looking at developing hydrogen courses.

Finally, Hydrogen seminars and conferences offer a great opportunity for knowledge sharing and networking, enabling collaboration and skills development in the region. The annual hydrogen conference which has been held in Birmingham over the last 20 years has become an important event for the UK hydrogen community in which stakeholders get an update on the state of development of policies, projects and technologies in the UK and worldwide.

The Midlands has an opportunity to become the UK’s centre for training and retraining of workforce required for the hydrogen economy. The wide range of courses already developed and running in the Midlands highlight the depth and breadth of the knowledge base that can be tapped into.

04 Support

How can local authorities support hydrogen skills in the Midlands?

Hydrogen promises to be a significant contributor to the future fuels mix for both domestic and commercial consumers. Local Authority leadership must look to promote and enable a transition which ensures sustainability and wellbeing, future proofing of services and infrastructure, and support an ecosystem attractive for investment, to retain existing industries and stimulate targeted sustainable growth.

Considerations for local authorities

Creating a hydrogen vision and strategy

for the region based on credible evidence which lays out strategic objectives specific to hydrogen training and skills development.

Setting up virtual hubs, events and taskforces

to help foster knowledge sharing and collaboration between stakeholders from industry, academia and public sector.

Supporting scale up of technical training programmes

at technical colleges and universities.

Supporting local industry and supply chains

to identify skills gap and retrain their staff to be ready for getting involved in hydrogen project opportunities.