Hundreds of jobs in the multibillion-dollar renewable energy sector remain unfilled due to a chronic shortage of qualified tradespeople in the Hunter.
The shortage, which industry blames in part on a lack of investment in vocational training in areas including electrical, engineering and boilermaking, threatens to derail the Hunter's clean energy transition.
Leading Hunter manufacturing firm Ampcontrol has told the Newcastle Herald it needs 100 skilled workers as part of its expansion plans.
"It's as much of a crisis as a crying shame because there are so many good organisations pushing for investment in the Hunter and the renewable energy zones but unless something changes soon there won't be enough people to do the work," said Andy Leadbeatter, managing director of Edgeworth-based firm Reclaim Solar Energy.
"We are looking to do some work on the renewable energy zone out west and there is just a dearth of workers; you would be lucky to find an electrician."
In addition to workforce shortages, experts have warned that poor transition planning, including under-investment in training for displaced coal mining and power station workers, is likely to have disastrous consequences for years to come.