According to the New Climate Economy Working Paper, the global energy system has undergone “unprecedented” expansion as energy demand has grown almost 60% since 1990. Energy efficiency is essential for delivering affordable energy, especially in developing countries, and for ensuring that existing energy production infrastructure is not overloaded by the increase in demand. It also plays a role in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and helps curb CO2 emissions.
Whether you’re an energy efficiency career starter, career changer, or a seasoned professional, working overseas can be a big drawcard. You might be interested in growing your experience, experiencing a new culture, or developing your skill set in different regions. Whatever your goals are, here’s our suggestions on how you can start your next big adventure abroad – and work overseas in energy efficiency!
Consider your Immigration Options to Work Overseas in Energy Efficiency
Moving and working abroad is not without its challenges, and visas are one of them. If you are between 18-30 years old, many countries offer working holiday visas that give you the right to work for a year or more. While these can be quite restrictive in your employment options, if you are a career starter, it’s a great way to explore a new country and work at the same time.
Otherwise it’s important to know where you might be able to work if you don’t already have an offer of employment overseas. Do you hold dual citizenship or are you eligible? What are the requirements for a work visa where you want to go? Often your best bet is for an employer to sponsor you after offering an employment contract, though this often also comes with requirements and provisions that can limit your flexibility and tie you to that role for a period of time.
Work for a Multinational
One way of opening up the opportunities to work overseas in energy efficiency or sustainability is to work for a large multinational company that has offices around the world. This can give you the opportunity to continue working with the same company and transfer to a different location. This strategy will no doubt give you the best advice and help in terms of relocation packages and visa assistance, not to mention an immediate support network of employees who have already gone through the same process.
Leverage your Language Skills
In a globalised world, it is estimated that more than half the world’s population speak at least two languages. Many countries are multilingual as well; South Africa has 11 official languages! Consider how you can leverage this skill to find work abroad. You may not even need to have a working proficiency in that language; just a basic understanding and a desire to learn more.
On the flip side, don’t forget to consider where you could work using your native tongue! Super languages like English, Mandarin, Spanish, or Hindi are the most commonly spoken languages in the world.
Work in Sustainable Development
Energy is critical for a country’s economic development and reducing poverty, and in a report from the Overseas Development Institute, it’s described as “the golden thread that weaves together the economy, the environment, and equity.” Many international organisations and NGOs work overseas in sustainable development projects that often focus on energy and infrastructure to support developing nations. International organisations which frequently advertise energy efficiency projects and contracts include various UN agencies and international banks such as the World Band and Asian Development Bank.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals set in 2015 includes 17 goals, one of which is to ensure “affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.” Partners such as Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) work with the UN to support countries in developing strategies and implementing energy efficiency progress. Energy efficiency makes it easier to provide access to energy to millions of people without it, and can dramatically improve their quality of life. Those who work overseas in energy efficiency, and at home, are working in a sector that can contribute almost half of the emissions targets set in the Paris Agreement, and help economies rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Upskill your Local Knowledge
Countries and regions vary significantly in their energy efficiency standards and the infrastructure they use. Regional variants such as weather can also have a large impact on a country’s energy efficiency performance; a 2019 report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) showed that in the United States, a cooler winter and a warmer summer drove up energy use for both heating and cooling, while in Europe, a milder winter lowered demand for heating and was a major factor behind a 2% improvement in energy intensity.
If you are looking to move your career overseas, consider up-skilling or retraining so that you can get up to speed with local energy services and infrastructure and identify opportunities for efficiency. Other countries may have different standards or requirements for working in energy and it’s important to research these and find out if you need to complete a new certification appropriate for that region.
Working overseas can have innumerable benefits for your career and lifestyle. While moving and working abroad is not without its challenges, it will provide you with a fresh perspective on energy efficiency in different regions, challenge you to work with new people and new cultures, and give you insight into the necessity of sustainable development. Whether you’re looking to join board meetings in China, develop infrastructure in West Africa, or learn from experts in their field in Germany, expanding your horizons will not only build your resume but give you fulfilling life experiences as well. Work overseas in energy efficiency and get fresh perspectives and insights!
Sustemy offers a range of courses in energy efficiency and sustainability that can help you upskill, skills that could help you find that overseas job you are looking for!