Bluestream Australia, part of the Bluestream group of companies, is an Australian staffing agency founded with the goal of helping solar industry players find the right workers for whatever job is at hand. The company has three branches, each of which services a particular niche in the solar industry: installations, project-based & long-term recruitment, and executive search.
Why solar-specific staffing?
In the past few years, Australia’s residential and small-scale commercial solar industries have reached something of an equilibrium, with installation numbers having stabilised after the series of ups and downs wrought by policy instability. Currently, the solar industry employs over 13,000 people nationwide–more than employed in the coal industry. And it is widely expected to continue growing into the coming decade and beyond. Likewise, the future for large-scale solar, while currently under the cloud of uncertainty about the federal Renewable Energy Target, is by most accounts bright in the long-term.
As the industry continues to grow, so will the need for solar companies to fill a range of blue-collar and white-collar roles for both permanent and project-based positions. Affordable, accredited installers, qualified engineers or competent project managers who also have experience specifically in the solar industry can be hard to come by, and traditional staffing agency fees are notoriously expensive.
This is a gap that Bluestream solar has set out to fill. The company was established by long-serving renewable energy recruitment expert Gareth Clarke, on the back of the networks he built while working on solar and other renewable energy projects throughout the greater Asia-Pacific region with Bluestream Energy, the company’s APAC project development wing. His understanding of how the renewables industry works enabled him to found Bluestream Australia and develop the company’s unique and highly adaptable business model.
Flexibility & low overheads
Unlike conventional temp agencies, which generally have overheads of their own–which are ultimately passed through to clients–Bluestream Australia makes a point of keeping costs low. Furthermore, Bluestream’s fee structure is flexible, and can be changed depending on the project and the client. Mr Clarke says that this flexibility is what gives Bluestream its competitive advantage.
“I can guarantee that we will beat any competitor’s quote if it sits within our remit of renewable energy,” he says. “Most recruitment / temp agencies have large expensive city offices for which costs need to be recovered, whereas we work remotely in satellite offices which to date has proven to be very successful as any meetings we have take place in coffee shops or business centres.”
Bluestream recruitment process
According to Mr Clarke, Bluestream’s recruitment process is straightforward, thanks to the company being embedded in the PV industry (he has personally sold residential systems and helped facilitate some larger commercial and industrial deals). This allows them to understand the whole value chain. A client need only give a brief run down of their requirements and Bluestream will soon understand what they need and provide options to recruit.
“We are different to a normal temp agency because we are on the same team as all of the solar companies out there. We are not only looking to turn a profit, we are also passionate about seeing the industry prosper so understand that margins are tight, and competition is rife and our fees reflect this,” says Mr Clarke.
“We want to help people get jobs, to gain experience, to grow Australia’s talent pool with solar experts so the talent sits within our shores and there’s no need to look beyond them.”
Bluesteam Australia is divided into three branches, each of which services a different niche in the Australian solar industry.
- Bluestream Installations: The company acts as an operations partner to to several solar PV installation companies by offering PV design & installation services to the residential & commercial solar markets. Currently, the company installs in excess of 100kW in residential systems per week and is undertaking two projects between 50-100kW, with a pipeline stretching out into 2015. Bluestream’s installations division is expanding rapidly, with the company acting as a go-between for installers and solar companies seeking quality and reliability; this is where Bluestream adds value.
- Bluestream Recruitment: Placing project-based and permanent experts into the solar PV industry, covering the whole value chain. Projects which Bluestream has had direct involvement in include Broken Hill, Nyngan, Vast Solar’s CST pilot plant near Forbes, and Mugga Lane.
- Bluestream Executive: Bluestream Australia also undertakes executive retained search for senior executive appointments in the renewable industry.
Also belonging to the Bluestream Group, but separate from Bluestream Australia’s recruitment operations, is Bluestream Energy, which sources and develops large-scale renewable energy plants throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Supporting communities and the broader renewables industry
The company makes an effort in every instance to recruit locally and to give back to the community in some way. In some instances this may take the form of donations or small improvements to local property. “Depending on the project size, this could be anything from donations to the local council to upgrading the children’s playground,” says Mr Clarke.
Ultimately, he says, the company’s mission is not only to be the go-to agency for all renewable energy staffing mandates from the ground up in Australia (plus the rest of the Asia-Pacific), but also to support the the renewable energy industry more broadly. “Through our community programmes, we endeavour to support local communities and help renewable energy to be seen in a positive light so more people will vote YES for pro-renewables policies, and the industry will flourish.”
© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd